Braves promote 2021 postseason hero Eddie Rosario among flurry of moves

Bryce Elder recalled to start Monday vs. Diamondbacks, giving All-Star Chris Sale some extra rest
Eddie Rosario became a postseason hero for the Braves in 2021. He was named NLCS MVP for the team which eventually won the World Series.

Credit: AJC file photo

Credit: AJC file photo

Eddie Rosario became a postseason hero for the Braves in 2021. He was named NLCS MVP for the team which eventually won the World Series.

PHOENIX – At home in Puerto Rico over the offseason, Eddie Rosario waited. And waited. And waited.

“It’s difficult,” Rosario said. “My family didn’t know what happened. Everybody at home was like, ‘What happened with you? Are you staying here or are you playing baseball?’ All the time, I was waiting for one team to sign me.”

Finally, the Nationals signed Rosario in early March. By then, only a few weeks remained in spring training. He had to get ready quickly.

With Washington, Rosario hit .183 with a .555 OPS over 219 at-bats. He hit seven home runs and had 26 RBIs.

The Nationals released him.

Back in a Braves uniform, Rosario spoke about the lesson he learned from his free agency.

“Don’t sign late,” he said. “It’s difficult when you sign late and go to spring training late. You don’t have too much time to be ready.”

The Braves on Monday promoted Rosario to the majors after he played three games for Triple-A Gwinnett. A sign of how much Rosario wants to play baseball: The Braves initially intended for him to appear in two games for Gwinnett before an off day, but he wanted to play on Sunday.

In Monday’s 5-4 win over the Diamondbacks, Rosario went 1-for-4 with a strikeout – but the one hit was massive. In the ninth inning, Rosario was down to his final strike against closer Paul Sewald. He hit a four-seam fastball way above the zone – somehow – for a single. It set up Sean Murphy’s game-tying, two-run homer.

“It was incredible,” Murphy said. “We know that from Eddie. Eddie can hit just about anything, and he knows it. He’s not afraid to go up there and swing. He’s dangerous no matter where you throw it.”

Rosario’s arrival was one of a flurry of moves. The Braves also recalled Bryce Elder to start Monday’s game in Phoenix. They are simply giving extra rest to Chris Sale, originally scheduled to pitch Monday, and the other starters – as they have all season. (Braves manager Brian Snitker said Sale is slated to start on Sunday in San Diego, which would mean he likely won’t appear in the All-Star Game two days after that.)

The Braves optioned left-handed reliever Dylan Lee to clear a spot on the active roster for Elder. They also sent down infielder/outfielder Luke Williams, who was the casualty for bringing up Rosario. And to open a 40-man roster spot for Rosario, Atlanta designated outfielder J.P. Martinez for assignment. (The Braves acquired Martinez from Texas in the winter.)

Rosario’s teammates were happy to see him again.

“They said they missed me,” he said. “Everybody missed me here. I missed them too.”

Rosario and the Braves hope this – his second stint with Atlanta – can be a fresh start. Rosario said when the Nationals released him, a return to Atlanta crossed his mind. But no one can tell the future.

This situation – his former team, with a great clubhouse and smart coaching staff – might be what he needs for a resurgence.

“I’m really just trying to bring energy and good vibes to this squad, because it’s already been a really good ballclub and a terrific team,” Rosario said.

Rosario wanted to continue playing, and the Braves are searching for more production from their corner outfield spots. Jarred Kelenic – batting leadoff and filling in at center field for Michael Harris II (hamstring strain) – has been a spark. Adam Duvall has shown encouraging signs, but has struggled. Left field has been a revolving door since Kelenic took over in center.

On Monday, Rosario was in the lineup playing left field and batting seventh for the series opener against Arizona. Rosario gives the Braves a left-handed bat to start against righties and platoon with the right-handed hitting Eli White if they choose to go that direction. Given that the Braves have tried others who haven’t performed, the bar is relatively low for Rosario.

The Braves hope that Rosario’s return to a familiar environment might jumpstart him.

“Sometimes guys can have that happen to them and they see this as kind of a second chance. It energizes him,” Snitker said. “Hopefully that can be it. …We know what Eddie’s done here. He’s got good memories here, he’s been successful here. So hopefully this is something maybe that he views as a good second chance for him this year.”

Three seasons ago, Rosario became a postseason hero for the Braves, who won the World Series. Rosario was the NLCS MVP.

The point here: No one knows what will happen, or how this will go.

But when the Braves signed Rosario to a minor-league deal, it seemed like a matter of time until he was with the big-league team.

“It’s just a great opportunity overall, and to be a member of this organization is a privilege,” Rosario said. “So I just feel very grateful for this opportunity that I’ve been given. You’re looking at a Brave.”