The Strange Journey of Michael Rivera

Michael Rivera is currently playing for Las Vegas. That's not really where he could reasonably expected to be at this stage of his career. And it's only the latest stop on a journey that's taken a series of improbable turns.

  He was born in Nicaragua and was brought this country as a child with his family settling in Miami. That's not all that unusual so he grew up in this country playing a lot of baseball. He was pretty good, too.

Not quite good enough to get drafted out of high school but still good enough to get recruited by the University of Tennessee. Thus he wound a Vol and that might have seemed a bit strange- a kid who listed his birthplace as Managua being in Rocky Top country but there he was, playing second base.

   This time he did play well enough to be drafted - by the Dodgers in the 17th round last June. He signed and was sent to Ogden, which figured. There, though, he made another unexpected trip- a short one to the other side of the diamond.

You see, the Raptors had trouble filling a hole at short so they moved Rivera over. He played there the rest of the season, hitting .253. Okay but nothing to get excited about.

In spring training this year he went back to his more natural position at second and won the job for the Great Lakes Loons. Started the season up in Michigan but he wasn't hitting. Not that much anyway.

Then came a chain reaction. Travis Denker had been out with a broken hand but after rehabbing, he was sent to Inland Empire to play second. That bumped Elian Herrera down to Great Lakes and cost Rivera his job.

He was assigned to Ogden again but  this was at the end of April and that team's season doesn't officially begin until the middle of June. That probably should have meant Rivera would have been handed a plane ticket and told to report to the extended camp in Dodgertown to play there until he got his next assignment

. Didn't happen that way, though. Instead he hung around Michigan practicing but not on the official roster so he couldn't play. Then came a call- to Inland Empire. Now, instead of going down, he was being moved up, lowly average and all.

He went to the California League team and hit better there. Well, .240 to be exact, which, again, is not anything you're calling the folks at home about but getting him a chance to play every now and then.

And then came the latest call- report to Vegas. So, here he is just starting his second year in the game and already in AAA. And he hasn't exactly been causing pitchers to quake anyplace he's played.

So far, he's 0-for-5 as a member of the 51's and doesn't figure to get a lot of playing time. But he's up there playing in a league that a lot of players never reach.

Nice kid. Works hard. But  the whole thing is more than a bit weird, you'll have to admit.  

LA Dodgers Insider Top Stories