PHOENIX — Rene Rivera, pitcher whisperer?
The 31-year-old catcher smiles and shrugs sheepishly at the simply suggestion that he might have helped play even a small component in helping mold two of the leading pitchers in baseball — Clayton Kershaw and Felix Hernandez.
No,Inch Rivera said. But sometimes I just have got a feeling that when I find someone, I can tell if theyre gonna be good or not. With Kershaw I really could tell. And with Felix it was exactly the same.
Rivera first caught Hernandez when he has been an 18-year-old in the Mariners technique in 2004, with San Bernardino from the California League.
Four years in the future he had the chance to work with the actual then-20-year-old Kershaw in Double-A Jacksonville of the Southeast League.
There was something and so similar about Kershaw and Hernandez during this young age, something aside from natural talent and a supreme experience that stood out.
It was the direction they approached the game, the way they ran, Rivera said. The way that they acted on the mound. [Kershaw] looks like a big leaguer in Double-A.
Rivera was advised of this on Thursday, when Kershaw allowed one run throughout eight innings, striking out 15 in a 2-1 victory over the Padres. The main one run he surrendered got on an RBI single to the one and only his former batterymate Rivera in the in 7th place inning.
Although Rivera didnt have the chance to work with Tyson Ross within the Minor Leagues, he has equivalent strong feelings about Ross advantages. That much has shown in 2014 for Ross, an All-Star for the first time, who got a two-hit shutout into the eighth inning connected with Thursdays loss to the Dodgers.
[Rivera has] helped me available tremendously the last two years, Ross said. We sit next to each other around the bench and talk at all times. Hes been huge for my career.