NEW YORK -- Like anyone with a vested interest in the Mets' fortunes, T.J. Rivera heard Monday night that the Mets had agreed a two-year contract with free-agent third baseman Todd Frazier. Rivera, who was part of the Mets' infield mix last year but is currently rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, wasn't particularly surprised. Nor did he feel he had much right to be upset, considering he knows he cannot help the Mets on Opening Day.
"I haven't even thrown, so I can't be mad about things like that," Rivera said Tuesday before receiving a Thurman Munson award to benefit the AHRC New York City Foundation, which assists children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. "I can only do what I can do, and that's get healthy, and do my therapy and stay positive. There's a lot of infielders there. There's a lot of great players, too. Things happen. I'm just going to be ready for when my time is called. I don't know when that is going to be."
At the tail end of a season that saw him hit .290 with a .760 OPS in 73 games, while establishing himself as a bona fide big leaguer, Rivera underwent Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. Although the operation is traditionally not as serious for position players as it is for pitchers, doctors still gave Rivera a minimum recovery period of seven months -- taking him until roughly mid-April.
The Mets, conservatively, don't expect Rivera back until at least May. And even Rivera, an optimist regarding his rehab, admitted Tuesday: "I haven't put a date on anything because I really don't know, but I know I won't be ready for Opening Day."
In the meantime, the Mets have busied themselves remodeling their infield, signing veterans Adrian Gonzalez and Frazier to man the corners. Asdrubal Cabrera and Amed Rosario are slotted in as starting middle infielders, while Wilmer Flores and Jose Reyes are ticketed for the bench -- leaving little room for Rivera once he is healthy.
Then again, Rivera has seen firsthand how injuries can create unexpected opportunities; it is, after all, how he became a 27-year-old rookie in 2016. He also understands that the addition of Frazier, which the Mets could officially announce on Wednesday, makes the team better.
"Anybody like that who's had success, who's an All-Star in the past, who brings that energy to the clubhouse and it's positive energy, is going to help the team," Rivera said. "So I think it's going to be a great addition."
For now, Rivera is working with Mets trainers in Port St. Lucie, Fla., entering the advanced parts of his rehab process. He expects to begin throwing a baseball in the coming weeks, with hitting soon to follow.
Whatever happens after that, Rivera will take as it comes.
"It's really just a slow process … over and over with little workouts," Rivera said. "But it's all for the right reasons. I seem to be on track."