Wahoos want to get Rivoli's bat in lineup

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- Brendan Rivoli is listed as a catcher on the Virginia baseball team roster. But the sophomore could be the Cavaliers' opening-day left fielder when they face No. 1 Vanderbilt in Arizona on Friday.

According to UVA head coach Brian O'Connor, the position move is a way to get Rivoli's left-handed bat in the lineup.

"I think he's going to be somebody that's going to be a real productive offensive player for us in the middle of the lineup," O'Connor said. "I just love his approach at the plate. He's aggressive, but then he's a really tough out with two strikes. And I just like what he's made of and like his competitiveness at the plate."

Rivoli appeared in 33 games for UVA as a true freshman last spring, including 18 starts at designated hitter. He finished his first season hitting .247 with two home runs, five doubles and 15 RBI in 85 at-bats. His biggest weekend came at Disharoon Park against Virginia Tech in early April, when Rivoli went 5-for-11 for the series, including his first college homer and a game-tying triple.

"Going from high school to college is a big leap. And just getting that experience under your belt is huge," Rivoli said. "Especially when you go play in a stadium like this, or other stadiums."

Rivoli hit .304 in 26 games with the Kalamazoo Growlers of the Northwoods League before his summer was cut short by an ankle injury. He returned to UVA to hit an even .500 in 18 at-bats, with three doubles and five runs scored, in last fall's Orange & Blue World Series.

"He had a fantastic fall," O'Connor said. "His quality of at-bats for the entire fall were really on the tops in the club. And so I think he can take from that a lot of confidence, and we can have confidence in him, that he can produce at a high level for this team."

That confidence in Rivoli at the plate prompted UVA to give him a look in left field this preseason. Rivoli says he has been putting in work with center fielder Cam Simmons and right fielder Alex Tappen -- who made the move from corner infielder to the outfield as a true freshman last year -- to get more comfortable at his new position.

"Definitely when you first come in here that's the kind of job you want, the kind of role you want," Rivoli said. "Nothing is given; you've got to earn everything. Going out there and working your hardest, competing is what they preach and what you've got to do."

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