SAN DIEGO -- Rene Rivera had the chance to catch many of the Padres' pitchers in Spring Training, so he wasn't completely in the dark in terms of handling the staff when he was recalled from Triple-A Tucson on July 7.
But at times, it sure felt like it.
"In the beginning, it was a little tough, because I didn't know how a lot of these guys like to throw, what they threw," Rivera said. "But I studied a lot and watched how the starters and the relievers prepared and what they threw … just how they went about their business."
Rivera joined the team after Yasmani Grandal was lost for the season with a severe knee injury in July. Rivera entered Monday's 4-1 win over the D-backs with a .222 average in 22 games, although his value to the team goes far beyond anything he does offensively.
"I'm tough on catchers," manager Bud Black said. "But watching Rene's work, he's done a nice job. We knew his arm was outstanding, the blocking, the way he receives. Calling a game, executing the game plan, working with [pitching coach Darren Balsley], he's done a nice job."
Rivera has caught each of Andrew Cashner's last four starts and has developed a strong relationship with many other pitchers on the staff.
"He's very animated behind the plate," said right-hander Tyson Ross. "If you miss, he's like 'Let's go.' We're lucky to have some good catchers here. You don't miss a beat with any of them."
Rivera signed a Minor League contract with the team before the season and would like to return again next season.
"I would love to come back here next year. They have treated me great here and gave me the chance to get back to the big leagues," Rivera said.