The Braves might now have an explanation for outfielder Eddie Rosario’s struggles at the plate and in the field to begin this season.
Rosario will undergo a laser procedure on Wednesday to correct blurred vision and swelling in his right eye, the club said Monday night. Rosario on Monday saw a retinal specialist.
The Braves should know more after Rosario’s procedure, but a loose estimate is that he will miss eight to 12 weeks following the surgery. The Braves on Tuesday announced they placed Rosario on the 10-day injured list, retroactive to April 25, and recalled righty William Woods.
“I knew he had reported something Sunday after the game, so I knew he was going to see the doctor and that they were going to do some extensive tests,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “I was thinking he’d probably need to change his contact prescription or whatever.”
Rosario began the season 3-for-44 (.068 batting average) with 10 strikeouts and five walks. He has as many errors (three) as hits. Perhaps the most glaring of them: In San Diego, he simply missed a fly ball in right field.
This, and his struggles at the plate, may now be explained by Monday’s news. It appears he might not have been able to see the ball properly.
“I think it was just blurry,” Snitker said. “A little bit of eye problems in baseball is a lot. I don’t know to what degree it was, but it was enough that he went in and talked to (head athletic trainer) George (Poulis) and that, it’s a little bit more than what I thought it was.”
This development, of course, reinforces the need for Ronald Acuña to join the Braves – and soon. He is scheduled to play seven innings in right field for Triple-A Gwinnett on Wednesday, then nine Thursday. May 6 is a loose target date for his return to the big club.
Until then, the Braves could put Guillermo Heredia in right field to go with Adam Duvall in center field and Marcell Ozuna in left field. The Braves recently recalled Travis Demeritte, who has played in right field twice for them thus far.
It seemed likely Rosario would’ve moved to left field once Acuña joined the club. Now it remains to be seen whether Ozuna will be the club’s primary left fielder for the foreseeable future, or if general manager Alex Anthopoulos will make a move. Orlando Arcia, the team’s lone backup infielder, can play left field but may not be an everyday option there.
Demeritte and Alex Dickerson are the only backup outfielders on the roster, but Rosario’s placement on the injured list will free a spot on the active roster. Something else worth noting: Rosters shrink from 28 to 26 after May 1.
Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@
Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@
Last October, Rosario starred during the Braves’ run to the World Series. He was named MVP of the National League Championship Series after he torched the Dodgers. In 16 postseason games, Rosario hit .383 with a 1.073 on-base plus slugging percentage. He hit three doubles, a triple and three home runs, and drove in 11 runs.
After the lockout, the Braves brought back Rosario with a two-year, $18 million contract, with a club option for 2024. The Braves knew he would not always look like he did in the postseason – his playoff numbers would be impossible for anyone to sustain – but Rosario hasn’t looked like himself to begin this season.
He collected one hit in his first nine games and hasn’t tallied one since April 19 against the Dodgers. His average exit velocity on 34 batted balls was 86 mph, according to Baseball Savant. (For context: A hard-hit ball is classified as any having an exit velocity of at least 95 mph). This means that Rosario was not simply receiving bad luck – he wasn’t hitting balls hard.
All along, Rosario’s struggles remained a mystery.
Now the Braves may have an answer.
“If your vision is off a little bit, it’s a lot in this sport,” Snitker said. “You start thinking back to the fly ball that he missed, that might have been something to it. He’s always ready to go, so I’m glad he’s getting it taken care of.”