Injuries may once again get in the way of New York Mets utility player T.J. Rivera becoming a regular contributor.
New York Mets utility infielder T.J. Rivera was hopeful that 2019 was going to be a positive turning point in his struggles from recovering and rehabbing from the Tommy John surgery he went through in 2017. Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to be the case as of early Spring Training. Rivera was seen earlier this week wearing a large black brace covering his elbow and his forearm.
While the rest of the team was taking practice throwing drills on the infield, Rivera was busy answering questions as to why he was still unable to participate in Spring Training exercises with the rest of his teammates.
"“It’s just a little discomfort. Before (in July) I really felt like I couldn’t do much baseball wise with my original injury. It’s definitely not the same pain.”"
It seems like the soreness and discomfort Rivera is still experiencing isn’t exactly what caused him to get Tommy John back in July of 2017, but it is precautionary. The brace he is wearing over his forearm and elbow is to prevent his elbow from further hyperextending.
Hyperextensions are known to damage ligaments that usually provide stability to a person’s joints and muscles. This can cause sprains to occur and can often result in discomfort occurring due to bone contusions.
While some players tend to recover rather quickly from Tommy John surgery, others take a full 18 months to fully heal. Rivera looks to be in the latter camp. Both he and his manager Mickey Callaway agreed that Rivera should not rush back now considering he has already taken over a year and a half just to make it to Spring Training.
The Mets manager addressed the situation:
"“When you have been rehabbing for this long, you have go to, don’t push it. He will tell us when he’s ready , but it;s been a long time now so the concern is more about being out for so long more than anything else.“"
Rivera played a career-high 73 games in 2017, where he batted .290 with a .330 OBP and 13 doubles with 27 RBI. In his 2016 rookie year, Rivera came up late in the season and batted .333 with a .345 OBP and an OPS of .821. He proved to be a prolific contact hitter with gap power to both sides of the field.
Rivera is currently doing some running, light throwing and light hitting. But again, nothing at real game speed or real game intensity. It seems like he will more than likely begin the year at Triple-A Syracuse when his discomfort subsides and he will likely have to work his way back to a utility role with the main ball club. But until then, it is a wait and see attitude from both himself and Mets management.
With the team currently stockpiling plenty of depth in their infield this offseason, panic is more than unlikely to settle in should Rivera sit out another few months.
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Hopefully, all turns out positive and healthy for the Bronx native as he continues to battle and defy the odds at the professional level.