After a full recovery, the Sean Rodriguez-Pittsburgh Pirates reunion can now truly begin

Sean Rodriguez knew the odds of him being at this year’s PiratesFest were low when he signed with the Braves last offseason. The odds of him even playing last year looked even lower when he and his family were in a deadly car crash on Jan. 30.

Sean Rodriguez, his wife and two children are fine now, but he needed surgery on his right shoulder that was supposed to shelve him all season. Instead, he made his return to the Braves on July 17.

Why?

“I can’t sit around and get paid,” Rodriguez said.

He’s not that type of guy.

“The biggest thing for me was I’ve never the type obviously to take advantage of anybody,” Rodriguez said. “I always want to get my money’s worth, meaning you’re paying me to be out there, I can be out there. I may not be at 100% like I was before, but I can contribute.”

“I was like, ‘tell me what I can’t do,’” Rodriguez said he told then Braves GM John Coppolella. “He was like, ‘ok, be careful going head first. Be careful doing this.’ I was like, ‘don’t tell me that. Tell me what I can’t do.’”

Now the reunion can truly begin

After a brief stint with the Braves, Sean Rodriguez was traded back to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Aug. 5 for minor league catcher Connor Joe, and is under contract for 2018 for $6 million. Coming off the best season of his career in 2016, he ended 2017 with a .167/.276/.295 line and five home runs- including a walk-off in his first game back with the Pirates on Aug. 6- in 153 plate appearances.

Rodriguez admits he was never 100 percent last year, but said, “I feel like my 60, 70% is still better than most people’s 100.”

Rodriguez is not going to have his “normal” offseason this year either. After the wear and tear of a 162 game season, he said he usually took a month or a month and a half off to relax. He decided to take only a week off this offseason before getting back to work. He’s still being cautious with his right shoulder, adjusting his routine to accommodate it, but he should be in better shape next year.

Getting him back to 100% is vital part of the franchise’s success in 2018. With the Pirates apparently willing to hear offers for Andrew McCutchen and Josh Harrison, and David Freese’s questionable future as a starter, Sean Rodriguez could be asked to start the year either as the everyday second or third baseman, an outfielder or stick in his super utility role.

Whatever that role may be, he said it will not impact his offseason regimen.

“I feel like every offseason I prepare for one thing, and that’s to play all the way through October.,” Rodriguez said. “Yeah, most of my roles in my career has been a bench player, but I’ve always seen myself as a guy who can play every day and wants to play every day.”

Alex Stumpf

Alex is a credentialed Pirates beat reporter with The Pittsburgh Sports Report. If you want to keep up to date on the team or have a story idea, you can follow or reach him @AlexJStumpf.