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The Seattle Times

Rivera To Play With Idol

Bob Sherwin, Seattle Times staff reporter

September 16, 2004
Copyright © 2004 Bell & Howell Information and Learning Company. All rights reserved.

For catcher Rene Rivera, his first call-up to the major leagues yesterday was a dream come true, but not necessarily for the customary reasons.

Rivera, 21, the club's second-round draft choice in 2001, is from Bayamon, Puerto Rico. His idol, longtime Mariners DH Edgar Martinez, grew up in Puerto Rico.

"One of my dreams when I signed with the Mariners was to play with Edgar. My dream has come true," said Rivera, who arrived just in time, as Martinez will retire in three weeks. "I met him for the first time in 2001. He's a great guy, a great person. He's a Hall of Famer."

Rivera's call-up was a surprise because it was believed the Mariners had added enough players this season. When he takes the field for the first time, he will be the club's record 15th player making his big-league debut this season.

Rivera, who played briefly for Class AAA Tacoma, was with Class A Inland Empire most of the season. He hit .235 in 107 games for the 66ers with 22 doubles, six home runs and 53 runs batted in. The 66ers were eliminated from the California League playoffs Tuesday by Lancaster.

"His average was not as good as forecast, but he's going to be a pretty good hitter," said Mariners manager Bob Melvin, who now has more flexibility with a third catcher. "He's a really, really good catcher. His offense will come along."

Rivera, who was already packed and ready to head back to Puerto Rico, got the call from the Mariners just after Tuesday's game. He caught a plane to Seattle yesterday, arriving at 1:30 p.m.

"I called my mom first," Rivera said. "At first she didn't believe me. I had to tell her a second time to explain that it was true."

To make room for Rivera on the 40-man roster, the club designated right-hander Brett Evert for assignment. Evert was picked up on waivers from Atlanta on Aug. 27. The Mariners have 10 days to trade, release or assign him to the minors.

Team extends Spanish radio contract The Mariners announced that they have extended their Spanish Radio Network contract for two more seasons.

The rightsholder, KXLY Radio Group, has provided all Mariners home games to the Hispanic communities in the state of Washington since April 2003. There have been five stations on the network: KKMO (1360 AM) in Seattle/Tacoma, KBBO (1390 AM) in Yakima, KTCR (1340 AM) in the Tri-Cities, KWLN (103.3 FM) in Moses Lake and KWLN (92.1 FM) in Wenatchee.

There are an estimated 800,000 Spanish-speaking people in Washington and Oregon, and 32 radio stations carry at least some Spanish language programming. Amaury Pi-Gonzalez and former Mariners second baseman Julio Cruz have provided the play-by-play for all Mariners home games.

Cruz, who played for the Mariners from 1977-83 and is still the club leader in stolen bases (290), was inducted into the Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum Hall of Fame in ceremonies before last night's game.

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