‘It means everything’: Alfonso Rivas relishes first Opening Day with Cubs
Alfonso Rivas just wanted clarity.
The last few days of Spring Training, he knew he was on the proverbial roster bubble. The Cubs had only a few open spots on their 28-man Opening Day roster and his position wasn’t written in stone.
So, when he was summoned to David Ross’ office at the Cubs facility in Mesa, Ariz., he was relieved.
“Just in the sense of like I knew something was gonna happen,” the 25-year-old first baseman said.
When he walked into Ross’ office, he received the news he was hoping to hear.
Ross congratulated him on a strong spring and informed him that he had made the Cubs’ Opening Day roster, the first of his career.
“It means everything,” Rivas said. “There’s a lot of great players that were competing for spots. Seeing your name on that first 28 guys, it’s awesome. It is a great accomplishment and I’m just happy.”
He got his first taste of the big leagues last season, when he was called up late in the season and played in 18 games. An injury curtailed his first big league experience, though. Less than a month into his big-league stint, Rivas was placed on the 10-day injured list with a right middle finger tendon injury. That eventually turned into a trip to the 60-day IL, ending his season.
“It was tough,” Rivas said. “I wish I could’ve kept helping the team out.”
The cup of coffee in the big leagues, though, motivated Rivas like never before.
“As hungry someone can be,” Rivas said. “It just makes you work harder. It’s the best baseball in the world and as a kid whose lifelong dream was to play in the big leagues, you get a little taste. Now you want a little bit more.”
It helped him in the spring, too.
Having played in the majors and going up against the best players in the world gave Rivas some added moxie as he embarked on Spring Training this year. He believes that will help find success in the big leagues and sustain it.
“I think that little taste is gonna help me a lot this year in terms of how I go about my business, whatever happens in the year if I’m up or I’m down,” Rivas said. “Just keep working and good things will happen.”
Rivas was one of 9 Cubs who made their first Opening Day roster. The significance of that wasn’t overlooked by Ross.
“I think it’s a really big deal to make the Opening Day roster,” Ross said prior to the Cubs’ season opener against the Brewers Thursday.
Ross remembered the time he first made an Opening Day roster in 2004. He was with the Dodgers and was vying for a spot. The team flew back from Spring Training into Los Angeles and the team bus pulled up to Dodger Stadium.
“Shawn Green sat behind me on the bus and he goes, ‘Rossy, you know you made the team if they have a picture of you on the side of the stadium,’” Ross said.
The team bus drove around the stadium and, much to Ross’ disappointment, he didn’t see a poster of himself.
“I’m like, ‘son of a gun, I’m not on it, I don’t see it anywhere,’” Ross said.
As they pulled into the players’ lot, Ross saw a poster of himself and knew he had made the roster.
“I’m getting chills thinking about that,” Ross said. “It’s just one of those things you don’t take for granted. It’s special for everybody.”