Bill Shanks

Braves add utilityman Rodriguez

Los Angeles Angels' Sean Rodriguez has played with Los Angeles, Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh in his major league career.
Los Angeles Angels' Sean Rodriguez has played with Los Angeles, Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh in his major league career. AP

Sean Rodriguez is a super-utility player if there ever was one. He played seven different positions in 2016 for Pittsburgh, with starts at six different positions.

That’s exactly what the Atlanta Braves needed – someone who could play all over and contribute. So it makes sense the Braves would sign Rodriguez to a two-year contract for a reported $11 million.

Rodriguez hit .270 last season with 18 home runs and 56 runs batted in. He had a .349 on base percentage – the best numbers of his career. The right-handed hitter will turn 32 next April 26.

Last season, Rodriguez hit .286 with a .415 on base percentage against left-handed pitchers.

The Braves also love his makeup. Rodriguez has a fiery personality, which should fit in well with the young talent in the Atlanta clubhouse.

Rodriguez first came up with the Angels in 2008. He then spent five years with Tampa Bay before spending the last two with the Pirates.

He’s played mostly at second base in his career, with 297 games played and 220 starts. But Rodriguez has played all over. Here are the number of games he’s played and started at in his career:

1B – 208 (53)

2B – 297 (220)

SS – 154 (118)

3B – 115 (62)

LF – 100 (55)

CF – 16 (4)

RF – 51 (29)

Rodriguez will likely get playing time at second base with Jace Peterson, at least until Ozzie Albies can prove he’s ready to take over the position. Rodriguez can spell Freddie Freeman at first, or push Adonis Garcia for playing time at third base. He gives manager Brian Snitker great flexibility for his lineup.

Albies is coming off an elbow injury, which will slow down his timetable just a bit. Rodriguez and Peterson give Albies time to fully recover and be promoted when he is completely ready for the big leagues.

Here are the players expected to push for a roster spot in 2017 and where they can play:

1B – Freddie Freeman, Sean Rodriguez, Nick Markakis, Tyler Flowers

2B – Jace Peterson, Sean Rodriguez, Ozzie Albies, Chase d’Arnaud

SS – Dansby Swanson, Sean Rodriguez, Chase d’Arnaud

3B – Adonis Garcia, Sean Rodriguez, Chase d’Arnaud, Jace Peterson, Rio Ruiz

LF – Matt Kemp, Sean Rodriguez, Mallex Smith, Jace Peterson, Ender Inciarte, Chase d’Arnaud

CF – Ender Inciarte, Sean Rodriguez, Mallex Smith, Chase d’Arnaud, Jace Peterson

RF – Nick Markakis, Sean Rodriguez, Mallex Smith, Chase d’Arnaud

C – Tyler Flowers, Anthony Recker, Tuffy Gosewisch

The Braves will likely add another option or two for spring training, maybe a left-handed bat for the bench. It would be a surprise if they don’t add another option at catcher, as well. But Rodriguez fills a lot of needs for the 2017 roster.

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