For as long as Neil Walker is out with his torn hamstring, T.J. Rivera is going to get a chance to show what he can do.
What he showed on Sunday was he can hit, going 4-for-4 with a double and a run scored in the Mets’ 5-1 win over the Nationals. He started at third base, with Terry Collins switching him and Wilmer Flores.
“You don’t get to this level coming where he came from without believing in yourself and what you can do, and T.J. Rivera thinks he can hit, and therefore he can hit,” Collins said. “He has a knack to get the barrel to the baseball and he does it. He gets sent down and I’m sure he looks in the mirror and says, ‘Well, I’ve been here before. I got there once, I can get back there,’ and that’s the way he approaches it.”
The 28-year-old, out of Lehman HS in the Bronx, hit .333 last year in 105 big-league at-bats. This season he was hitting .255 when he was optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas last Sunday. He was brought back just two days later after Asdrubal Cabrera went on the disabled list with a thumb sprain, and Rivera is 9-for-19 since coming back. On Sunday he started for the fifth consecutive game, and he’s hitting .289.
“Sometimes you’ve got to look back at what got you here and keep doing the things that got me here,” Rivera said. “I just try to keep a positive mentality no matter what happens, being sent down or not playing that day, things of that nature. Just be ready to help the team win in any way possible.”
Collins said he switched Rivera’s and Flores’ positions because he felt Flores was more comfortable at second. Flores made a fielding error in the first inning that led to an unearned run.
TC READY TO TURN CES LOOSE
Yoenis Cespedes still got his scheduled day off on Sunday despite the Mets losing the first three games of the four-game set. Collins said he hoped to have Cespedes available to pinch-hit, but that ultimately wasn’t necessary. The manager said Friday he hopes the Mets can “turn (Cespedes) loose” starting with the upcoming road trip, believing he should be past the hamstring and quad issues he had before being activated from the disabled list on June 10.
MURPH EXTENDS STREAK
Daniel Murphy was in danger of having his reached-base streak against the Mets snapped Sunday afternoon, but he took advantage in his final plate appearance, doubling in the ninth inning to finish 1-for-4. Murphy has reached base safely in all 29 games he’s played against his former club, hitting .391 with 10 doubles, eight homers and 29 RBI.
WEDNESDAY STARTER TBD
Zack Wheeler and Robert Gsellman will start the first two games against the Dodgers, but Collins said a decision hasn’t yet been made on who will pitch Wednesday. Tyler Pill is an option, and Collins said Friday Rafael Montero could also be an option. … Trea Turner stole a Nationals’ record four bases Sunday (the stat does not count the franchise’s Montreal Expos history). Travis d’Arnaud is 3-for-17 throwing runners out this season.