After signing a two-year, $11.5 million contract with the Braves in November, Rodriguez was set to serve as a versatile member of Atlanta’s regular lineup throughout this season. This plan was altered on Jan. 28, when he and his family were involved in an accident involving a stolen police car in Miami, Fla.
The man who stole the car was killed. Rodriguez’s wife, Giselle, suffered multiple fractures, and two of the couple’s sons were briefly hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries. Sean initially thought he escaped with scrapes and bruises. But a week before the start of Spring Training, he learned he needed to undergo left shoulder surgery.
Though the initial projections indicated he would likely miss the entire season, Rodriguez steadfastly stuck to his rehab program, and by the time June arrived, he started showing signs he might return much earlier than expected.
Rodriguez recorded just three hits in 39 at-bats during his Minor League rehab stint with four Braves affiliates. But because he was healthy, the Braves opted to activate the 32-year-old veteran, who hit .270 with 18 home runs and a .859 OPS in 342 plate appearances with the Pirates last year.
When Santana was placed on the disabled list on July 7, it was initially feared a staph infection might have formed on his left calf. But once tests showed it to be a bacterial infection, he was cleared to begin his Minor League rehab assignment with Gwinnett late last week.
Santana has significantly enriched Atlanta’s bench since being acquired from the Twins in May. Since going hitless in his first 17 at-bats with the Braves, he has hit .286 (20-for-70) and provided much-needed speed, which has proven beneficial in the outfield and on the basepaths.
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.