Feb. 2, 2014
2014 Schedule | UTTIX.com
The start of the 2014 Tennessee baseball season is just 12 days away!
In January and February, UTSports.com will count down the days remaining until the start of the Vols' 2014 campaign (Feb. 14) with looks back at the many players who donned jersey numbers 30-1.
The baseball season in Knoxville kicks off on the diamond on Feb. 14 when the Vols host the Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks at Lindsey Nelson Stadium at 4 p.m. With one of the youngest teams in the country in 2013, head coach Dave Serrano and company have the foundation in place on Rocky Top.
The 2014 slate is highlighted by 33 games in Knoxville, including early nonconference matchups against Purdue (Feb. 15-16) and UNLV (Feb. 21-23). The Vols open with a 13-game homestand, starting things off with three straight days of doubleheader action.
Practice has officially begun on Rocky Top and the Diamond Vols are in action throughout this week, with outdoor scrimmages set for Friday and Saturday. All outdoor practices at Lindsey Nelson Stadium are free and open to the public. For more information and to view this week's pitching schedule, visit UTSports.com.
Just 22 Vols have worn the Orange and White No. 12, and no Vol will wear the jersey in 2014. Ten years ago the number belonged to former Vol and Miami native Michael Rivera, who went on set the program record for games played and at-bats.
#12 Michael Rivera
2003-06 | INF/OF | R/R | 6-0 | 185 lbs. | Miami, Fla. (Miami Senior HS)
A middle infielder at Miami Senior High School in Miami, Fla., Michael Rivera came to Tennessee for his freshman season in 2003. Rivera immediately found himself in the lineup, starting all 43 games he played. He was forced to miss the final 12 games after injuring his right thumb. Rivera hit .283 as a rookie with two home runs and 26 RBIs. A versatile player, Rivera started 33 games in right field, five at third base, four at first and one at shortstop as a freshman, while hitting anywhere from second to seventh in the lineup.
He posted a .301 batting average as a sophomore in 2004 with two homers and 18 RBIs. He earned SEC Player of the Week honors midway early in the season after hitting .632 (12-for-19) over the course of a week. Rivera played in 54 games, making 42 starts (29 in right field, two at third base and one at second base). He registered 14 multi-hit and four multi-RBI games and recorded a 10-game hitting streak.
Rivera started all 67 games at second base during Tennessee's 2005 College World Series run. He hit a career-best .331 with 81 hits, one home run and 42 RBIs. He posted 25 multi-hit games and 10 multi-RBI games. On the base paths, Rivers was 13-for-14 on stolen-base attempts. His only home run of the season was a timely three-run blast during Tennessee's series-clinching win over Georgia Tech in the NCAA Atlanta Super Regional. He had two hits during the season-ending loss to Arizona State in the College World Series.
Rivera served as the team co-captain and started every game of his senior season in 2006, hitting .316 with 67 hits, 36 RBIs and a career-high four home runs. He put together a career-best 12-game hit streak that came to an end May 18 against No. 8 Alabama. Rivera broke the school record for games played when he took the field for the 219th time May 18 against Alabama. The season-finale vs. Alabama May 20 marked his 219th career game, and he doubled to tie Stevie Daniel (1999-2001) for fourth place on the school's all-time hits list with 246 career hits.
Upon Rivera's departure from UT, the only Vols to ever record more hits than him were SEC Players of the Year Chris Burke (2001), Todd Helton (1995) and Jeff Pickler (1998). He left as the school's all-time leader in games played (219) and at-bats (793) and was also second in singles (197).
Rivera was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 17th round of the 2006 MLB Draft. He went on to play just two seasons in the organization, rising to the top of the Minor Leagues at the Triple-A level. He played in 92 total games in the minors, including 15 in Las Vegas.
NOTES ON RIVERA
- Full name is Michael Antonio Rivera
- Born in Managua, Nicaragua
- Majored in sociology at Tennessee