After 5 Surgeries, Rivera Back For 7th Season

Editor/Collegiate Baseball

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — RHP Andy Rivera of Lee University is embarking on his seventh college baseball season which may be an all-time record.

He has attended four different colleges and endured five surgeries that have added up to a combined medical bill of nearly $500,000 in his quest to play baseball.

Rivera and his family were forced to take out loans to pay for mounting bills while Middle Tennessee St. and Lee University helped pay for a portion of the expenses.

They include:

  • A fracture in his right throwing elbow which had screw inserted in the bone.
  • During a bullpen session, his right knee popped out which tore the meniscus as more surgery took place.
  • After experiencing cold sweats, daily dizziness and lack of arm and body strength, it was discovered he had a blood clot near his right armpit which was removed by a surgical procedure.
  • Eight months later, he experienced the same symptoms and was rushed to the hospital where a surgeon sliced open his upper arm from his right armpit to his elbow searching for another blood clot which never materialized.
  • His fifth surgery took place slightly over a year later when he tore the Achilles tendon which connected the calf muscles to the heel bone on his left leg.

Because of a combination of medical redshirts and a COVID-19 season last year which allowed baseball players another year of eligibility, Andy is in this highly unusual situation which may never have happened before to an athlete in any college sport.

The NCAA allows players 10 semesters (five years) to play four years of college athletics. Few athletes have been granted a waiver and extension to play a sixth year.

“My first injury showed symptoms when I was a junior at Westwood Christian High School in Miami, Fla.,” said Rivera.

“My right elbow was sore that year when I threw. Then I transferred to St. Brendan Catholic H.S. in Miami, and the pain level in my elbow was much greater when I threw. When I graduated, I had surgery on the elbow. A surgeon found a stress fracture of a bone in my elbow which was secured together with a screw.”

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