Undrafted, he signed with the Yankees in 1996. He had his first professional at-bat in 2001 after being rated one of the top prospects in the Yankees farm system.
In addition to playing in the major leagues, he was the starting left fielder for his Venezuelan national team at the first World Baseball Classic.
He and his older brother Osmaldo Rivera trained for baseball together.
He spent six years with the Los Angeles Angels, alongside Garret Anderson.