Former TSU slugger sees first action in the major leagues

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 26, 2001

After dominating the Eastern League all season, former Troy State baseball player Michael Rivera played in his first major league baseball game last Tuesday for the Detroit Tigers.

The catcher from Bayamon, Puerto Rico, had his contract purchased from the Double-A Erie SeaWolves on Sept. 10. His first action came on Tuesday night at Minnesota as a defensive replacement for starter Brandon Inge. Four days later, he made his first career start at Boston. Rivera went 0-for-4, with a run scored as the Tigers downed the Red Sox, 4-3.

Earlier this month, Rivera was named to the Eastern League All-Star team after he led the league in home runs with 33, and finished second in RBI (101) and slugging percentage (.578). He helped lead the SeaWolves to the Southern Division title with an 84-58 record. After a solid first half of the season, Rivera was selected to play in the Futures Game for the World Team at the MLB All-Star Weekend.

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Rivera, who turned 25 on Sept. 8, lettered at TSU in 1996 and left an indelible mark on the program. He finished the season ranked sixth in the nation with a then-school record 21 home runs and 23rd in slugging at .741. He was also named first-team All-Mid-Continent Conference at the conclusion of the season.

Rivera initially signed with the Tigers as a non-drafted free agent on Jan. 20, 1997. He becomes the first Trojan to play in the major leagues since pitcher Mike Perez broke through with the St. Louis Cardinals in the late 1990s. He is also the 16th player coached by Trojan skipper John Mayotte to make it to "The Show."