LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. - There was a time when the Braves weren't sure if Sean Rodriguez would play at all this season. That doubt, however, pales in comparison to the thoughts that ran through Rodriguez' mind during some fearful moments in January.
"I mean, you think about it, the guy who crashed into us passed away in the accident," said Rodriguez. "It could have been one of us. It could have been two of us. It could have been all of us."
Earlier this year, Rodriguez, his wife and two of their sons were driving through Miami when their car was t-boned by a stolen police cruiser. As Rodriguez said, the driver of that car died, and he and his family member were hurt as well (here is a link to Rodriguez talking about what happened immediately after the accident).
The great news: the family is all doing much better. His wife suffered some of the most serious injuries, but she was all smiles Friday as she chaperoned a group of about 10 family members to watch Rodriguez continue his rehab process playing for the Gwinnett Braves.
"The accident has definitely made us not take anything for granted," said Giselle Rodriguez, Sean's wife. "We try to enjoy everything, we try not to let little things bother us. We just, kind of ... we're so grateful."
Sean Rodriguez says it took help from his extended family and more to get everyone healthy and back on track.
"Lucky, fortunate," said Rodriguez, looking for the right word, "just grateful that God chose to allow us to keep on living."
The second baseman had rotator cuff surgery after the accident, casting doubt on his ability to return at all this season. Instead, he was out for about 5 months, and the Braves indicated they think he can return by the end of July. Rodriguez, however, has a different goal.
"No no, I'm trying to come sooner," said Rodriguez. "I want [July] 14th, that's my date. I set that date in my head out of surgery and I'm going to keep pushing for that."
It's an impressive comeback, not lost on the Braves who've seen Rodriguez regularly at SunTrust Park as he worked with trainers.
"Those guys that know their bodies and have that determination, don't tell them they can't do something, cause they'll prove you wrong," said Braves manager Brian Snitker.
Rodriguez and his family were driving in the wrong place at the wrong time in January, sending their expectations for this year spinning into something no one could see coming. Looking up in the stands while he's playing, however, and seeing his smiling relatives reminds Rodriguez how things could have been much worse.
"You know what, God said, 'maybe I've got to give you a five month break,' I don't know, I don't know what He's thinking, I don't question what He does," said Rodriguez.