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Mets: With Neil Walker hurt, now is T.J. Rivera’s time to shine

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May 5, 2017; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets third baseman T.J. Rivera (54) rounds the bases after hitting a home run against the Miami Marlins at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
May 5, 2017; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets third baseman T.J. Rivera (54) rounds the bases after hitting a home run against the Miami Marlins at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
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When one player goes down, another has the opportunity to make the best of it.

Wednesday night, the Mets lost yet another player to injury. In the bottom of the third inning of yesterday’s game, Neil Walker laid down a perfect bunt off Cubs’ pitcher Mike Montgomery, which appeared that he may have been able to beat out.

However, after getting more than halfway down the line, Walker grabbed his hamstring, and hobbled to first base before completely collapsing. Walker left the game on Wednesday with obvious pain, and had an MRI done on Thursday — which revealed that Walker has a partial tear of his left hamstring .

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While the injury to Walker is bad news, the Mets have now lost two middle infielders in two days — T.J. Rivera will now get to make the most of his extended opportunity. While Rivera did get the start on Wednesday before any injury to Walker, that was only because the Mets were facing a lefty, and Terry Collins opted to sit Lucas Duda against Montgomery. When Walker went down, Rivera eventually shifted from first to second base, and Duda entered the game playing first.

Rivera, who entered that game hitting .255, collected three hits and saw his batting average rise to .271. Throughout his entire minor league career, Rivera has been known to hit for average and get on base. Wednesday night, Rivera exemplified just that. He was able to drive in a key insurance run in the eighth inning which extended the Mets lead to 9-4.

With the Mets facing multiple injuries, Rivera is going to continue to need to step up, and produce in the Mets lineup like he did on Wednesday. He’s going to be an everyday player now with both Cabrera and Walker out, and he is capable of filling in that role.

For instance, in early May, when Rivera saw extended playing time, he saw his average rise to above .300. Then obviously came a point where he was not producing at the same rate, which gives reasoning for his average dipping to .255 before last night.

Since Asdrubal Cabrera and Walker were placed on the disabled list, Rivera has started in fight straight games. In Sunday afternoon’s game against the Nationals, Rivera went 4-4 with three singles and a double.

Next: Filling the potential manager vacancy

Walker is expected to miss several weeks. It’s Rivera’s time to step it up.

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