One moment, Sean Rodriguez was driving in his car, entering an intersection after the light had turned green.
That's when the Atlanta Braves infielder's memory gets hazy.
"I remember crossing the light at one point, waking up in the middle of the street, and everything had already happened," Rodriguez said in an interview with 11Alive.
It was in January, less than two months after the former Pittsburgh Pirates infielder had signed a two-year, $11.5 million deal with the Braves on Thanksgiving Day. On January 28, he was in Miami with his wife, Giselle, and his kids. They were driving when a stolen police cruiser ran the red light at the intersection and plowed into their vehicle. The driver of the stolen police car was killed.
Rodriguez suffered a shoulder injury to his non throwing arm. His wife suffered two broken legs and required surgery on her wrist. His kids were also in the hospital, but Rodriguez said they are doing much better now.
When everyone was in the hospital, Rodriguez couldn't help but replay the accident in his head, wondering if there was something he could have done differently to avoid it. It doesn't help though that he can't remember everything that occurred that night.
"Things I think may have happen that sometimes add up, sometimes don’t," he said. "I’ve got a few pieces to a pretty big puzzle I can’t put together because I don’t have all the pieces there."
Soon after the accident, Braves general manager John Coppolella said Rodriguez would likely be out the entire 2017 season.
Rodriguez had surgery, and doctors placed 10 anchors and one screw in his shoulder.
"Naturally, it’s pretty bionic in my right shoulder right now," he said. "It feels as good as it should."
His wife, Giselle, is still recovering. She is still limping when walking. She can't run, yet. He can't help but think about her while he's on the road, wondering if he should be at home helping instead of fighting back to get back to baseball. But she puts his mind at ease.
"It helps when she tells me not to worry about her," he said. "She makes it seem like there’s nothing wrong with her. So it makes it pretty simple to get my focus where it needs to be."
The team signed former Cincinnati Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips to fill his void while top prospect Ozzie Albies continued to develop in the minors.
It's seven months later and only halfway through the MLB season, and Rodriguez has already started his rehab stint. He spent a couple of days with the Rome Braves, and was moved up to Triple-A Gwinnett where he will play his second game with the G-Braves on Saturday night against the Indianapolis Indians.
After months of rehab, conditioning and improving the range of motion in his arm, the doctors have cleared him to play, and it could be just a matter of weeks before he plays his first game at SunTrust Park. He's determined to play this season.
"Doesn’t everybody like proving people wrong?" Rodriguez said about why he's pushing to get back.
But what the Braves will do when they've got a surplus of infielders at the major league level when Rodriguez returns is the question. He could be traded, or Phillips-- who will become an unrestricted free agent after this season-- could be traded or walk after the season.
Rodriguez isn't concerned, but he would like to stay with the Braves.
"My objective is to win," he said. "That’s been my objective since day one. It’s not my job to decide who plays where, who will be the better fit for the job. You hope and you put forth the effort that convinces everything and everyone that it’s you. But that’s not my job."
He's been at every home game at SunTrust Park this season, except the last one when his rehab assignment began. He's building camaraderie with manager Brian Snitker and the players in the clubhouse. And he's dying to play a game in the Braves' new ballpark.
"I want to get out there. I’m dying to get out there. I love to play. I hope that shows everyday I’m out on the field whether it’s on a rehab stint or in the big leagues."
Rodriguez said hitting and throwing feel pretty normal. It's taking some to get used to his bionic shoulder, and he said it has definitely been the hardest injury to come back from in his career. He had a single in his first game back at the Gulf Coast League, and on Friday he had a sacrifice-fly for an RBI with the G-Braves. He said he feels as strong as ever.
The mental recovery has been tough, as well, but it's something Rodriguez and his family are doing together.
"It’s been a grind. But I feel like that’s natural. You wake up, trying to grind out, each day trying to make the most out of each day. This obviously added a few more hurdles, some high ones to obviously climb," he said. "You just keep setting your feet down firm, take another step and keep moving forward. That’s how me and my wife have always viewed it and that’s what we keep doing."
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