Braves’ Sean Rodriguez completes rapid return to majors

The Atlanta Braves activated veteran utility option Sean Rodriguez on Monday afternoon, completing his recovery from an offseason car accident well ahead of schedule.

The 32-year-old journeyman, who enjoyed a career season at the plate with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2016, suffered a “three and three-quarter tear” in his left rotator cuff, labrum damage and dislocated bicep tendon in a Jan. 28 crash also involving his wife and two sons. In mid-February, Dr. James Andrews surgically repaired the damage but Rodriguez was facing the possibility of missing the entire season.

Instead, he re-enters the equation in mid-July after a grueling recovery, starting at third base in his first-ever game at SunTrust Park.

“It’s been a grind daily,” said Rodriguez, who mentioned his shoulder is fully healthy after the five-month rehab.

Rodriguez, who has logged time at every position outside of catcher and pitcher in the majors, provides a flexible option for manager Brian Snitker and Atlanta’s front office. His return will immediately allow the Braves to rotate players more frequently in myriad ways — likely centered around the infield mix at third, second and shortstop. Most notably, Snitker mentioned that the return of Rodriguez and the emergence of Johan Camargo could cut into former No. 1 overall draft pick Dansby Swanson’s playing time at shortstop in the short term.

Rodriguez’s return should also play a factor in the organization’s trade deadline discussions with the likes of second baseman Brandon Phillips and first baseman Matt Adams.

(On the Adams front, the Braves are facing left-hander Jon Lester on Monday night in their series opener against the Chicago Cubs. The former Cardinal has sat against southpaws since Freeman’s return from the disabled list.)

“I was telling a few guys, ‘They’ve definitely got this train moving. I’m just happy to jump on board,’” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez posted a career-best .270/.349/.510 slash line with 18 home runs with the Pirates last season.

The Braves inked him to a two-year deal worth $11.5 million this past winter.