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OC Register: Rene Rivera’s long and winding road finally led him to the disabled list

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ANAHEIM – The long and winding career of Angels catcher Rene Rivera includes 1,613 games for nine major league organizations. He was unemployed at one point in 2010 and played 22 games in an independent league. He’s played 10 seasons of winter ball, and his former teammates include Edgar Martinez, Clayton Kershaw, Yadier Molina and Andruw Jones.

Until May, Rivera had seen it all and done it all – except go on the disabled list.

Rivera, who turns 35 in July, said he never even had a close call since being drafted out of high school by the Seattle Mariners in 2001. He’s played through bumps and bruises, but never needed surgery until an MRI last month revealed a tear in his right meniscus. The surgery was performed May 25 by Dr. Brian Schultz.

“He was surprised how my knee looked,” Rivera said on Sunday. “It looked like an 8-year-old kid. He was surprised I’d been playing for 18 years on my knee.”

Rivera caught all 12 innings of the Angels’ loss to the Minnesota Twins on May 12. He remembered feeling unusually sore after that game, but tried playing through the pain as usual. When Rivera caught another nine innings three days later, the pain didn’t let up.

“When I went to squat down, that’s when it felt like there was a lot of fluid down there,” he said. “I couldn’t squat. That’s when it felt like there was something we had to look at.”

Angels manager Mike Scioscia cited “wear and tear” as the cause of injury. Rivera said Sunday that he couldn’t be sure.

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The Angels initially said Rivera would need 4-6 weeks to recover. Rivera hasn’t resumed swinging a bat since the surgery, so there’s little reason to think that timetable will accelerate.

In the meantime, Rivera is sitting in on the Angels’ pitcher-catcher meetings as he usually would. He ‘s become a de facto mentor to Jose Briceño, the rookie catcher who was recalled from Triple-A to back up starter Martin Maldonado. Rivera said he will not travel on the Angels’ road trip next week to Minnesota, Seattle and Oakland.

In a sport that forces many of its participants down the rehab path before they reach legal drinking age, Rivera is a unicorn. What’s his secret to staying on the field?

“I really don’t know,” he said. “I would say just take care of your body, rest, eat, know what 100 percent is for you. Just play the game right, I think. I never think that doing this I’m going to get hurt. I always do it with confidence and that’s pretty much why, I guess, it’s taken me all the way to now.

“This is the first time. It’s something that you cannot control.”


Major League Baseball’s annual amateur draft begins Monday. The Angels will draft twice on the first day, 17th overall and 57th overall. Tim Salmon will be the team’s representative at the MLB Network studio in Secaucus, N.J.

MLB Network and MLB.com will provide video coverage beginning with a preview show at 3 p.m. The Detroit Tigers will be on the clock for the No. 1 about an hour later.

Beginning with the first pick in Round 2 and continuing through the end of the second round of compensation picks, the draft will air live exclusively on MLB.com.

Rounds 3 through 10 of the draft will be held Tuesday beginning at 10 a.m. Rounds 11 through 40 will be held Wednesday beginning at 9 a.m.


Andrelton Simmons was not in the Angels’ starting lineup Sunday, putting a temporary hold on his 11-game hitting streak. Scioscia said it was a previously scheduled day off for Simmons, who had appeared in every game since April 28. … Zack Cozart started at shortstop in Simmons’ place. He had not played since last Tuesday because of a strained left forearm. … Ian Kinsler’s six-game hitting streak came to an end Sunday. He finished 0 for 4. … Mike Trout was shaken up after hitting the wall in left-center field catching a fly ball in the fifth inning. Scioscia said that Trout’s knee bore the brunt of that hit but the center fielder isn’t expected to miss any time.


Angels (RHP Nick Tropeano, 3-3, 3.80 ERA) vs. Kansas City (LHP Danny Duffy, 2-6, 5.71 ERA), 7 p.m., Fox Sports West, ESPN+

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