By Jay Cohen
AP Sports Writer
CHICAGO — Rene Rivera got right down to business on his first day with the Chicago Cubs.
The veteran catcher joined the Cubs on Sunday and started their 6-5, 10-inning victory over the Toronto Blue Jays. He singled in his first plate appearance in the third and scored on Albert Almora Jr.’s three-run double.
“I’m ready any time they need me,” Rivera said before his successful debut.
The 34-year-old Rivera also drew raves from starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks for his work behind the plate.
“Awesome. I worked so well with him,” Hendricks said. “The visual was great. I told him after the game I think we can work really well together going forward. He’s a quick learner. He learned me pretty quick.”
Rookie Victor Caratini was optioned to Triple-A Iowa to make room for Rivera on the 25-man roster. NL Central-leading Chicago also activated reliever Koji Uehara from the 10-day disabled list and optioned left-hander Rob Zastryzny to its top farm club. Uehara had been sidelined by a neck injury.
Rivera was acquired Saturday on a waiver claim from the New York Mets. The Cubs lost catcher Willson Contreras to a hamstring injury on Aug. 9. They got Alex Avila in a trade with Detroit last month, but the addition of Rivera gives them more insurance at the position.
Rivera used to watch the Cubs play with his grandfather when he was growing up in Puerto Rico. He said his grandfather loved broadcasters Harry Caray and Steve Stone.
“It’s an honor for me to be here (with) a team he loved so much and now I play for,” he said.
The 34-year-old Rivera is known for his defensive skills. He hit .230 with eight homers and 23 RBIs in 54 games with New York.
“I think that the big challenge is knowing your pitching staff,” Rivera said when asked about joining a first-place team in late August, “and that’s one thing that I’m going to work hard to get to know everybody, get the trust of everybody and go from there.”