By Gem Tablak
On Tuesday night in Arizona, Rivera went 4-4 vs the D-Backs with 2 runs scored. Rivera has always shown he can hit in pretty much each level he’s been in however that’s never really a quick sell for me being that guys like Josh Satin & Eric Campbell have done pretty much the same while in the Mets organization & they sure did flake out once they’ve gotten the call to the big club.
However the main point is, Rivera is hitting the ball right now while he’s here & the Met infield isn’t exactly used to being crowded, especially since the the Asdrubal Cabrera injury however with the return of Jose Reyes & the need to get Wilmer Flores as much playing time as possible, especially versus lefties, there is a slight bit of clutter. So how can Terry Collins squeeze in his hot bat while not taking away too much time away from other infielders? It won’t be easy but it can be done.
TJ Rivera, while he is a infielder is also no stranger to playing left field. Naturally I’d never sub him in late into games, where defense is more important than ever, but he can occasionally start in left field vs LHP & either get substituted later on in the games or swapped out with a more defensive challenged IF & substitute that IF with an OF off the bench like Lagares & De Aza. Moves that are more likely to happen in a double switch rather than just a regular substitution. But where does he start in the infield?
Right now, the Mets have Walker dealing with a lower back issue & is also set to depart from the team soon as he will join his wife as she’s soon to give birth & Asdrubal Cabrera has been out for a few weeks with a patella injury, so TJ should benefit as the 2 regulars deal with their own separate situations. Rivera is currently hitting .364 in a very small sample size of 26 Ab’s. However even after Cabrera comes back, it would benefit the team to see where TJ Rivera fits in because he does keep the line up moving.
So I feel the best way to go about Rivera right now is get his hot hand in the line up right now as much as possible & even push him up to the 2 hole after Reyes or Granderson, preferably Reyes when the two can play together. Corné Hogeveen from MetsMinors.net has always told me to watch out for TJ Rivera & I usually laughed it off. Not because I thought Rivera is a bad player but because I see him being more of a singles hitter but the way the Mets have been hitting, especially with RISP, I’ll gladly take all the single he has to offer. I’ll go ahead & compare him to a “Marco Scutaro” type player with more versatility.