NEW YORK — Among those who stand to be most affected by the Mets’ reacquisition of Neil Walker is T.J. Rivera, a fellow second baseman whose big-league breakthrough came about largely because of Walker’s season-ending back injury. With Walker set to return to second base in 2017, and Jose Reyes and Wilmer Flores in line for bench spots, the Mets may have no choice but to send Rivera back to the Minors out of Spring Training.
It is not an ideal situation for Rivera, 28, who retains his rookie eligibility after hitting .333 with three home runs in 33 games, But things, he knows, can rapidly change.
“I’ve thought about it a little bit, but I haven’t really gotten down to thinking about what’s going to happen in the future,” Rivera said Friday in Elmhurst, Queens, where he gave out full Thanksgiving dinners as part of the team’s “MetsGiving” initiative. “I’m kind of enjoying the moment right now. Obviously that’s what’s most important is next season. But I’m just going to work hard, do the things I’ve done every offseason so far, and that’s go to work, just be prepared for any moment next year.”
Rivera’s two-run dinger
ATL@NYM: Rivera cranks a two-run homer to left
T.J. Rivera drills a towering two-run tater to left field to get the Mets on the board in the bottom of the 4th inning
For Rivera, that could mean becoming adept in the outfield, where he dabbled in nine Minor League games last season and expects to see some action in the spring. It also could mean spending a significant chunk of the summer at Triple-A, where his .353 average and Pacific Coast League batting title indicate he has little left to prove.
For now, Rivera is simply resting his body before ramping up after the holidays. A New York native of Puerto Rican descent, Rivera has interest in playing in the World Baseball Classic in March — though he may not have the opportunity given Team Puerto Rico’s glut of talented young middle infielders, including Javier Baez, Carlos Correa and Francisco Lindor.
Mostly, Rivera just wants to contribute where he can, which is how he found himself knocking on doors Friday on a quiet block in Queens. The Mets gave out 25 full Thanksgiving meals Friday and 700 turkeys overall this week throughout the five boroughs, with Rivera, Reyes, Curtis Granderson and scores of team staffers taking part in the initiative.
“I’m just grateful to be in a position to help people, and hopefully make their days,” Rivera said. “Hopefully they can have a good Thanksgiving. Just to meet fans and see how supportive they are, something like this is just unbelievable.”
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
Source: Mets News / With Walker back, T.J.’s future uncertain