MetsJunkies Q&A: Fan Favorite TJ Rivera

A lot of Mets fans remember TJ Rivera. The undrafted free agent that went thru the Mets minor league system and into heart of Mets fans with some strong play. Rivera was a great force for the Mets during a pennant race in 2016, hitting a memorable go ahead homerun against Melancon and the Nats.

The now 33 year old Rivera played 106 games with the Mets between 2016 and 2017. He hit .304/.335/.445 with 8 homeruns and 43 RBI’s. Surprisingly enough, TJ didn’t get another shot in the majors besides strong numbers in his MLB stint with the Mets.

We asked TJ about what he is up to now, memories about his time with the Mets and more in this Q&A!

Q: First of all thank you for answering some questions. How have you been and what’s going on in your baseball career? Any news you can share?

TJ: I’ve been good. Spending a lot of time with the family. I finished up playing winter ball in PR in January and now I’m just hoping for another opportunity. I’m staying in shape and ready to go when that opportunity presents itself.

Q: We from MetsJunkies are obviously curious in your time as a Met. I read that former Met Mackey Sasser got the Mets attention to sign you? Can you about how that signing process went?

TJ: I went to Wallace community college and played for Mackey. After those two years I went to Troy university and went undrafted. It was a weird time for me because I wasn’t sure what my next move would be. I got a call shortly after the draft from Tommy Jackson and signed with the Mets a couple days later. For years I didn’t know how the Mets found me but I found out later it was Mackey who helped me out.

Q: You didn’t get drafted out of college after graduating in Crimenal Justice. After you didn’t get drafted, did your sights turn to working in criminal justice?


TJ: honestly I wasn’t sure what my next steps would be. I’ve always seen myself playing baseball and truly believed it was still going to workout. I have a degree in criminal justice but my passion is with baseball so hopefully when my playing career is over I can stick around the game.

Q: As an undrafted free agent, your road to the majors was different then the top prospects. What would you say were the biggest roadblocks in your road to the show? And you feel the biggest difference was between being a top prospect and an undrafted free agent?

TJ: For me the difference was that I had to keep proving myself over and over to make people believe what I believed and that was that I’m an MLB player. I totally understand if people were a little hesitant to move me through the system as fast as some top prospects. I understand the business side of things, but to me it didn’t matter. I just kept reminding myself that I had a jersey and an opportunity just like the first round picks.

Q: You played in all levels in the minor leagues. Which minor league location you most liked to play?

TJ: Out of the NY Mets affiliates I liked savannah the best. Grayson stadium was old but unique and I really enjoyed my time there. The fans were really great at every level.

Q: During your career, which coach or player helped you the most?

TJ: this is tuff because I’ve been helped my so many coaches throughout my career. I can go back to little league where coach Jocko was always there for us as kids. Coach Droz at my high school is where I really started to learn the game. Coach Ian Millman was my summer coach who helped get my name out there. All of my minor league coaches helped me throughout the years.

Q: Growing up, which player did you look up the most to?

TJ: Derek Jeter. I grew up a yankee fan and he was the captain. He helped bring championships to NY and did it in a way that I always admired.

Q: How did you hear the news you got the call up to the show?

TJ: Wally Backman pulled me in the office in between a double header and told me
I had the second game off and that I have a flight out to NY that night.

Q: You collected your first hit against Daniel Hudson and the Diamondbacks. Do you have a special place for the baseball?

TJ: I have it in a case with some other special balls. I need to get back with a team so I can add some more memorabilia to the collection.

Q: What’s your biggest moment as a Met?

TJ: there’s a couple special moments in my short time in NY but I would probably say my first game. Just another game for most but for me there was a lot that went into being able to stand on that field for the national anthem. A lot of sacrifice from others for me to be out there and I got to share that moment with them is the best part.

Q: Do you have any clubhouse stories you can share?

TJ: not really any I can think of

Q: You were part of the successful Team Puerto Rico in the 2017 World Baseball Classics (beating my Netherlands in the Semi’s). Can you tell me how that experience was, playing with some of the best players in the game.

TJ: unreal. The passion, the energy and playing for someone other then yourself is pretty special. It seemed like we brought a lot of people together and I will forever be grateful for that experience.

Q: You got to the Majors because or your hitting abilities and your versatility. How did you learn to hit and how did you become so versatile in the field?

TJ: well my parents started me young and I’ve loved hitting ever since the beginning. I wasn’t always the best or strongest but I always had the ability to be on the barrel. Maybe it was all the wiffle ball games outside my building. The versatility came a little later. I always played short and around my sophomore year in college is when I started bouncing around to second and third. When I got to Troy we had a great shortstop so I pretty much had to find other ways on the field. Then I was in High A with multiple infield prospects and nowhere for me to play so I learned first base.

Q: You were a favorite player of a lot of Mets fans. Unfortunately you haven’t been in the majors since. Do you believe a difference in team valuing hitting, is a big part of the reason you didn’t get another shot so far? Is it difficult to make adjustments which current Front Offices value more?

TJ: when I got hurt it put me in a tuff position and I’ve been trying to work my way back ever since. I do believe in the couple years I missed the game change a bit and teams value certain things differently then when I was first coming up. It’s been tuff to find consistent work but that’s part of the business. I finally felt like myself the second half of last season. I know I can help any team right now it’s just a matter of getting that opportunity.

Q: After your playing career is over. Do you intent to find another job in baseball?

TJ: I would love to stay in the game. Whether it be on the field coaching or in the offices I hope to stay around the game for a long time.

Q: Thank you so much for answering some questions! As a Mets fan you will be remembered as a great contact hitter getting big hits in a pennant race.

TJ: thank you and all the fans for your support throughout the years.

We want to thank TJ Rivera for the time to answer our questions and hope he finds a spot to play soon! We will definitely follow his road in baseball (as a player or coach).

Photo Credit: Phils Nation

MetsJunkies Recap: Mets Hold on for Series Win

The Mets held on to beat the Phillies 9-6 on Wednesday afternoon. The Phillies came back from 8-1 to 8-5, before the bullpen just got it done.

Max Scherzer got the start and he struggled thru 5 innings of one run ball. Scherzer got out of some big gems to limit the damage to just a run. Scherzer allowed 5 hits and 3 walks, while striking out 7. He lowered his ERA to 3.27, improving to 2-0.

The Mets, highlighted by Pete Alonso, scored 8 runs in the first 6 innings. Alonso drove in 5 with a homerun and two doubles. Nimmo homered to open the score, like he did on Tuesday. McNeil, Marte and Smith collected the other RBI’S in their 9 run outburst.

The Mets bullpen tried their best to gave away the lead. Sean Reid-Foley and Joely Rodriguez struggled, both allowing 2 runs in their outing. Ottavino, Lugo and Diaz held their own to shut it down. Diaz did allow a solo homerun to Harper but finished the Game.

After an offday, the Mets will have their home opener Friday at 1.10PM. Before the game the Mets will unveil the Tom Seaver statue. Chris Bassitt is scheduled to make the start against Davies and the Diamondbacks.

Photo Credit: New York Post Sports

MetsJunkies Recap: Mets Hold on for Series Win

The Mets held on to beat the Phillies 9-6 on Wednesday afternoon. The Phillies came back from 8-1 to 8-5, before the bullpen just got it done.

Max Scherzer got the start and he struggled thru 5 innings of one run ball. Scherzer got out of some big gems to limit the damage to just a run. Scherzer allowed 5 hits and 3 walks, while striking out 7. He lowered his ERA to 3.27, improving to 2-0.

The Mets, highlighted by Pete Alonso, scored 8 runs in the first 6 innings. Alonso drove in 5 with a homerun and two doubles. Nimmo homered to open the score, like he did on Tuesday. McNeil, Marte and Smith collected the other RBI’S in their 9 run outburst.

The Mets bullpen tried their best to gave away the lead. Sean Reid-Foley and Joely Rodriguez struggled, both allowing 2 runs in their outing. Ottavino, Lugo and Diaz held their own to shut it down. Diaz did allow a solo homerun to Harper but finished the Game.

After an offday, the Mets will have their home opener Friday at 1.10PM. Before the game the Mets will unveil the Tom Seaver statue. Chris Bassitt is scheduled to make the start against Davies and the Diamondbacks.

Photo Credit: New York Post Sports

MetsJunkies Recap: Mets Shutout Powerfull Phills

The Mets shutout the Phillies with a 2-0 win on Tuesday. Tylor Megill was great jet again pitching 5.1 scoreless frames. Megill now has 10.1 innings of scoreless ball this season!

Megill allowed just 3 hits without allowing a walk, while striking out 5. Over his season, Megill allowed just 6 hits without walking a batter.

The bullpen didn’t falther on Tuesday as Chasen Shreve (IP, 0H, 0BB,K) and Drew Smith (1.2IP, H, 0BB, 3K) got the ball to closer Edwin Diaz, who returned from paternity leave.

Diaz got into a little trouble, allowing two infield hits. But the closer dominated Schwarber, Harper and Hoskins with three strikeouts. His slider looked great and got a lot of swings and misses.

The Mets offense got just enough against Wheeler and the Phillies bullpen, collecting just 3 hits. Brandon Nimmo opened the score with a solo shot against Wheeler in the fifth. Lindor added a clutch RBI hit in the eight, scoring Marte who collected a clutch stolen base.

Today Max Scherzer and the Mets (4-2) will play the Rubber Game against Nola and the Phillies (3-2). Game starts at 1.05 at Citizen’s Bank Park.

Photo Credit: New York Post

Mets Junkies Game Recap: Bullpen Blows 4-run Lead

The New York Mets opened the game with Taijuan Walker taking the mound, and while he only pitched two innings, it was a very good two innings.

I’m not sure if Walker was supposed to exit early, however he looked to call the trainer to the clubhouse after the second inning, before being replaced by David Peterson.

Walker tossed just two frames and struck out four batters without giving up a hit or walking a batter, unfortunately, it would be the Mets back end of the bullpen that would falter.

Mark Canha is still hitting. The right-handed bat went 1-4 and is currently hitting .571 with 3 RBI’s on the very young season.

David Peterson pitched well out of the pen following Walker’s departure. The lefty threw four innings, striking out three while walking two and allowing three hits.

Brandon Nimmo picked up a multi-hit game, going 2-4 with a run scored while raising his batting average to .333 while manning center.

Trevor May also looked to tweak something as Showalter and Hefner, alongside a trainer, came to the mound before removing May.

Shortstop Francisco Lindor picked up a base hit, an RBI single. The perennial All-Star is now batting .250 with 3 RBI’s on the year.

The Mets and Phillies will play the second game of the series, as Philadelphia plays host. First pitch is scheduled for 6:45 PM with Tylor Megill squaring up against former Met Zack Wheeler.

Photo Credit: NYPost

Mets Junkies Game Recap: A Good Look by Cookie; Mets fall to Nats.

New York Mets starter Carlos Cookie Carrasco took the hill for the first time of the 2022 campaign and pitched really well. Unfortunately, the outing did not result in a team victory as the Mets picked up their first loss of the season.

However, back to Carrasco. The right-hander tossed 5.2 innings while allowing a run on two base hits. One of the hits came off of the bat of Nelson Cruz and resulted in a solo home run in the bottom half of the first.

Catcher Tomas Nido picked up a hit but also came up with a big defensive play in the bottom of the seventh. Nido would throw out Josh Bell as he attempted to steal second base with two outs, at which point the Mets still had a 2-1 lead over the Nationals.

Mark Canha is here to hit and that’s being shown as the newly acquired outfielder went 3-4, upping his BA to .700 after 10 AB’s.

Jeff McNeil picked up another hit today, as the super utility man went 1-3 on the afternoon as he also started in left field. McNeil now has a .438 BA as Buck Showalter continues to utilize McNeil’s versatility across the diamond.

McNeil, nicknamed The Flying Squirrel, even took a hit away from Josh Bell in left field as he made a sliding catch to rob the slugger of a cheap hit.

However, it would end up being the Mets defense that would cost them the game. An errant throw by Pete Alonso would eventually give Nelson Cruz and the Nationals the opportunity to take the game, and they did.

The Nationals would take the last game as the Mets take the four-game series.

The Mets will be in Philadelphia for a three game set with the Phillies as Taijuan Walker kicks it off against Ranger Suarez.

MetsJunkies Recap: McNeil had Himself a Birthday

The Mets beat the Nationals to improve to 2-0 in the early season. Max Scherzer made his Mets debut and he was solid going 6 innings of 3 run ball. Max allowed just 3 hits and a walk, while striking out 6 to get his first win as a Met.

The Mets got more then enough offense in their 7-3 victory. The Mets collected 13 hits with Jeff McNeil being the big man. On his 30th birthday, McNeil went 3 for 4 with a homerun, 2RBI’s, 2 runs and a walk.

Other solid performances came from Starling Marte (2 for 5, 2B, 3RBI), Robbie Cano (1 for 4, 2RBI), Mark Canha (2 for 3, R, 2BB) and Bradon Nimmo (2 for 5, 3B, R).

Another day, another Mets hit in the face as Lindor got hit by Steve Chishek. The beaches cleared with Buck Showalter going at it first. Lindor X-Rays were negative and he passed his concussion protocol.

After Scherzer, the Mets bullpen shut down the Nats with scoreless frames from Drew Smith, Seth Lugo and Sean Reid-Foley. Edwin Diaz is unavailable for a couple of days after his grandpa passed away.

Today Chris Bassitt will make his Mets debut against Joan Adon and the Nationals. The Game starts at 7.05 in D.C. and can be watched on SNY.

Photo Credit: New York Post

MetsJunkies Recap: Megill Shines in Opening Day Start

The Mets beat the Nationals on opening day yesterday behind 5 scoreless frames from Tylor Megill. The 26 year old allowed just 3 hits and didn’t walk a batter, while striking out 6.

On of those strikeouts came against Juan Soto in the third, with a scoreless Game. Soto came to bat with first and third and one out and Megill struck him out on an up and in fastball.

The Mets had 12 hits in the win with multi hit games from Alonso, Cano, Canha and McNeil. Both Canha and McNeil drove in a run with a 2 out RBI hit. McCann (HBP) and Marte (force out) drove in runs in the 5th.

The Mets added an insurance run in the seventh when Lindor drove in Davis (double). The Mets got a scare an inning later when Pete Alonso got hit in the shoulder, close to his face.

Besides a Juan Soto bomb of May in the sixth, the bullpen kept the Nats off the board. Ottavino, Lugo and Diaz all threw scoreless frames.

Today the Mets will play game 2 against the Nats in DC. Max Scherzer will make his Mets debut against his old team! Game starts at 7.05pm and can be watched on Apple TV plus for free.

Photo Credit: SNY

Mets Trade for Pitcher, DFA Yennsy Diaz

The Mets have acquired righty Adonis Medina from the Pirates in exchange for cash considerations. To make room the Mets DFA’d reliever Yennsy Diaz. Medina is assigned to AAA Syracuse.

The 25 year old Dominican, has pitched for the Phillies in 2020-2021. Over just 11.2 big league innings, he has a 3.86 ERA with a 4.03FIP. Medina was a highly touted prospect as he was as high as the 77th prospect according to MLB Pipeline before the 2019 season.

Medina owns a 3.78 Career minor league ERA, pitching in 117 games with 104 starts. The Mets have added some starting pitching depth with this move.

Medina features a 5 pitch arsenal with a 4 seamer, sinker, change, slider and curve. His fastball sits just under 93.

Photo Credit: MLB Trade Rumors

Mets Sign John Curtiss

The Mets have made a move that wouldn’t help them in 2022, as they signed John Curtiss to a major league deal. Curtiss is currently rehabbing from his TJS and will miss the entire 2022 season. The Mets made this move for his cheap team option in 2023. He is signed for 770.000 this year with a 775.000 team option.

In 2022 Curtiss pitched to a 3.45 ERA after a 2.48 ERA with the Marlins, before he got hurt. In 44.1 innings, he pitched to a 3.82FIP and 1.23 WHIP. The 29 year old righty has a 2.89 ERA in 71.2 innings since 2019.

This is a very smart move by the Mets. Worst case scenario is losing close to 1.5 mil, but if the rehab goes well they added a solid reliever without spending a lot. With some prime Mets relievers in their last season before hitting free agency, this could be a very important move.

The Mets also made some other moves as they put Chasen Shreve and Travis Jankowski on the 40 man roster. Both will make the team out of spring training. To make room, the Mets DFA’d Travis Blankenhorn and Jordan Yamamoto

Photo Credit: MLB Trade Rumors