Most baseball players would have a hard time calling Tommy John surgery a blessing. Mets infielder T.J. Rivera has good reason to make an exception, though.
Rivera has yet to resume throwing since going under the knife Sept. 14, but he has taken on a new job in the meantime. The 29-year-old became a father Dec. 6. Since then, Ava Rose and Rivera’s wife, Ashton, have kept him extra busy.
“When you’re down and you can’t play baseball, you realize what means the most to you — and that’s family,” Rivera said. “I was put on the shelf and I was down with the injury, but I got to spend more time with my wife and help her through the pregnancy and then the baby came. I’m still at the field every day working and doing everything I can to get back, but it makes it a little easier knowing I’m going home to see her and my wife.”
So proud of my rock @ashtonrose14 for being so strong through such a tuff process. She was truly inspiring for these last 9 months. With many ups and downs she was so selfless, only concerned about Ava and what she can do to help her. I’m so lucky to be able to raise a child with such a loving and caring person by my side. Our baby girl is finally here and I can’t take my eyes off her.
Of course, parenting has also provided a learning curve. He admitted that being a dad is a lot harder than trying to catch up to a major league fastball.
Like a batter facing a pitcher the third time through, fatherhood comes with modifications.
“It’s honestly the best thing that’s obviously ever happened to me, but it’s adjustments you have to make,” Rivera said. “You don’t realize how much time you waste when you come home from the gym, sit down on the couch and watch a movie or something. Those little things.
“But I don’t even miss them, because I have her.”
Even if the rotation in Chicago is ordered differently and Lester gets the ball in an earlier game, this still leaves one of Kyle Hendricks, Jose Quintana or newcomer Darvish to take the hill in the fourth game of a postseason series.
Both the Dodgers and Nationals might be safe bets to win more regular season games this year than the Cubs, but neither is going to have an easy time besting Chicago in the postseason unlike in 2017, when the Nationals took the Cubs through five brutal games, and the Dodgers dusted them off practically without effort.
Thanks to the addition of Darvish, this postseason could have a much different outcome.
Make no mistake: Both the Dodgers and Nationals will be juggernauts in their respective divisions and in the National League, but the power has shifted significantly out of their favor. Both teams have solid rotations, but the Cubs will go into the 2018 season with a top four who, according to Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS projection model, have statistical near-age comparisons to Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Andy Pettitte and Tim Hudson. That’ll do.