LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Braves understood the significant value Sean Rodriguez could have brought via his versatility. Now that they are preparing to go through the upcoming season without him, they are constantly reminded of how his absence will affect their plans for every infield and outfield position.With
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Braves understood the significant value Sean Rodriguez could have brought via his versatility. Now that they are preparing to go through the upcoming season without him, they are constantly reminded of how his absence will affect their plans for every infield and outfield position.
With Rodriguez likely to miss the season after undergoing surgery on his left shoulder, Jace Peterson and Chase d'Arnaud could both assume an enhanced role that would allow them to showcase the value they can bring via their respective abilities to play each of the infield and outfield positions.
"It's great to have those guys because it's becoming more and more in the industry where those guys who have that kind of versatility can play a long time and make a lot of money," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "You see teams going that way a lot of times. I don't know if there are too many so-called big, pinch-hitter guys out there anymore, so it's good to have the guys with the versatility."
Rodriguez, who underwent surgery to repair a torn left rotator cuff, was projected to open the season as Atlanta's primary second baseman and essentially serve as the primary backup at every position. The Braves filled the void at second base by trading for Brandon Phillips.
But the Braves must determine how they'll fill the void Rodriguez's absence has created at other positions.
Along with getting some starts at second and third base, Peterson could serve as an attractive backup option at each outfield position. As of now, the Braves could enter the season with either Emilio Bonifacio or Micah Johnson as a backup outfielder, but Peterson might be a better option, especially in right field.
d'Arnaud will serve as shortstop Dansby Swanson's primary backup and will stand as an option to come off the bench to fill any of the infield and outfield spots.
While Freddie Freeman will aim to play all 162 games this year, the Braves will have to determine who could fill that role if necessary. Snitker mentioned right fielder Nick Markakis as a short-term option and also indicated d'Arnaud could see some time at first base during Spring Training.
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.