The Braves got back to .500 with a sweep-completey win against the Diamondbacks on Sunday, now plan to activate versatile veterans Danny Santana and Sean Rodriguez from the disabled list for Monday night’s series opener against the Chicago Cubs at SunTrust Park.
Reliever Arodys Vizcaino (strained finger) is expected to come off the DL later in the week after making a minor league rehab appearance.
“We’ve got some reinforcements coming at the right time,” Braves slugger Freddie Freeman said. “So getting back to .500 is huge and hopefully we can start getting closer to the wild card. One step at a time.”
Santana missed 10 days with a leg infection. Rodriguez has been out all season recovering from shoulder surgery in early February for injuries sustained in a frightening Jan. 28 car crash when a stolen Miami police cruiser rammed the SUV that he was driving, injuring Rodriguez, his wife and their two sons.
It was generally assumed Rodriguez, 32, would miss most if not all of the season after surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff, damaged labrum and biceps tendon that had to be relocated. Instead, he’s coming back in just over five months.
Though he’d struggled in 11 minor league rehab games before Sunday, batting .077 (3-for-39) with one double, five walks and 12 strikeouts, Rodriguez has regained his strength and has played well in the field. Along with Santana, he should give the Braves’ bench more versatility and offensive punch than it’s had in quite some time.
Rodriguez also gives the Braves another starting option at a variety of positions, which could be crucial with the trade deadline looming July 31 and the Braves having two or three candidates to be dealt.
The Braves signed Rodriguez to a two-year, $11.5 million contract in November and planned for him to start the season as their primary second baseman, then move him to a multi-position role when prospect Ozzie Albies reached the big leagues. Rodriguez has experience at every position except catcher and is considered a solid defender all around the infield.
He had his best season with Pittsburgh in 2016, playing seven different positions and setting career highs in average (.270), home runs (18), RBIs (56), OBP (.349), slugging percentage (.510) and games played (140).