Rene Rivera is a defensively sound journeyman catcher who has a reputation for calling a good game and spent the early portion of the season in the minor leagues. And he’s “challenged” offensively.
At its best, that’s faint praise, but what Rivera showed Wednesday in the Mets’ 8-0 drubbing of the Braves is something worth noting: His career bouncing around the majors has helped the 32-year-old acclimate to pitchers quickly, like he did with Steven Matz during the 24-year-old’s masterful performance, and by the time it was all over, Matz himself was praising Rivera for the work he did behind the plate.
As for the offensive liability part? Well, yes, he hit .178 with the Tampa Bay Rays last season, but if his second-inning, two-run homer off Jhoulys Chacin is any indication, there might still be a little juice in that bat.
“He catches a great game,” Terry Collins said. He “hits a home run, that’s huge and that even helps the guy he’s backing up — ‘Hey look, if I have a day off, things are going to run smoothly.’ I’ll bet you tomorrow night, Kevin [Plawecki] plays very well.”
With Travis d’Arnaud on the disabled list (strained right rotator cuff), a reliable third-string catcher is a boon for the Mets. And one who can effectively wrangle their young guns is a premium. Which means Wednesday’s showing is especially encouraging.
“You’ve got to be honest with yourself,” Rivera said. “I know I can produce, but my main concern is my pitching staff and how I can help them to have the best game they can have at that moment. That’s where my concentration goes.”
Thirty-two members of the NYPD and their guests descended on Citi Field as part of Matz’s new charity initiative, TRU32 (Matz wears No. 32). Matz said he plans to host members of the FDNY, NYPD or military before every Wednesday home game this season.
“It’s been really good,” said Matz, who met with his guests after the game because he was starting in the matinee. “It stinks that it’s a getaway day [to fly to San Diego] so I couldn’t spend much time with them, but it seems like it’s really good.”