ATLANTA -- After Sean Rodriguez and Danny Santana were activated from the disabled list for Monday night's series opener against the Cubs, Braves manager Brian Snitker had reason to feel a lot better about his bench, which has evolved from a definite liability to a potential strength.Rodriguez returned from what
ATLANTA -- After Sean Rodriguez and Danny Santana were activated from the disabled list for Monday night's series opener against the Cubs, Braves manager Brian Snitker had reason to feel a lot better about his bench, which has evolved from a definite liability to a potential strength.
Rodriguez returned from what was initially projected to be season-ending shoulder surgery, and Santana was fortunate to miss fewer than two weeks with a bacterial infection, which was initially feared to be a possible staph infection. Jace Peterson and right-handed reliever Jason Hursh were optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett to create roster spots for the two utility players.
Wanting to get Rodriguez into the lineup immediately, Snitker started the versatile veteran at third base for Monday's matchup against left-hander Jonathan Lester. This allowed Freddie Freeman to move back across the diamond to first base to spell Matt Adams, who has not been in the lineup for any of the three games the Braves have played against a left-handed starter since Freeman transitioned to third base.
Snitker also stuck with his vow to keep Johan Camargo in the lineup on essentially a daily basis. Thus Camargo replaced Dansby Swanson as the starting shortstop for the fourth time within the past nine games.
With the infield mix further crowded by the addition of Rodriguez, Snitker admitted he's simply going to have to find ways to get the rookie shortstop in the lineup.
"Dansby is a young kid who has a lot of career ahead of him," Snitker said. "We've got to pick and choose spots and see matchups to put the best team out there we can every day. We'll see what happens."
Snitker's bench for the series opener against the Cubs consisted of Swanson, Adams, Santana, Lane Adams and backup catcher Kurt Suzuki.
It's safe to say things have gotten much better since the Braves opened the season with a bench that consisted of Peterson, Suzuki, Emilio Bonifacio, Chase d'Arnaud and Anthony Recker. Peterson has been sent back and forth from Gwinnett since the beginning of June. Recker hasn't been on Atlanta's roster since the end of April, and both Bonifacio and d'Arnaud have been released from the organization.
The Braves opted to go with a seven-man bullpen for the first two games of the series, but they'll likely use an eight-man bullpen when right-handed reliever Arodys Vizcaino makes his expected return from the disabled list on Wednesday.
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.