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Florida school shooting too close to home for Angels catcher Rene Rivera

The Wednesday shooting that killed 17 people at a south Florida high school hit close to home for new Angels catcher Rene Rivera, who last month signed a $2.8-million deal to back up starter Martin Maldonado.

Rivera, a nine-year big-league veteran known for his defensive prowess, lives about five minutes away from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, Fla., where the shooting occurred. His 4-year-old twin daughters eventually will attend the school.

“When we moved there two years ago, one reason we picked the area is it has one of the best school districts in Florida,” Rivera, 34, said. “Seeing this happen is heartbreaking.

“We have friends whose kids go to that school, and they were locked down in a closet in a classroom. We feel for them. My family and I send our prayers to the people who lost loved ones.”

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Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo, a 2007 graduate of Douglas High, left camp in Mesa, Ariz., on Thursday and returned to his hometown to offer support in the wake of the massacre. Rivera’s daughters were with him in Arizona, but he is considering ways in which he can support his new hometown.

“It’s hard for us as parents,” Rivera said. “We think school is a safe place for kids, and right now, in this era, it’s not. It’s hard to see that there have been 18 school shootings already this year. It’s hurting our kids. It’s something we in the U.S., as a government, have to fix, because our kids have to be safe.

“It’s scary to think that next year, when my kids go to school, are they going to be safe or not? It’s tough to think how this is impacting people emotionally. They need help.”

mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

Follow Mike DiGiovanna on Twitter @MikeDiGiovanna


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