Eddie Rosario, Tyler Matzek return for Braves

Braves left fielder Eddie Rosario hits a double during the seventh inning against the Houston Astros in game 1 of the World Series at Minute Maid Park, Tuesday October 26, 2021, in Houston, Tx. Curtis Compton / curtis.compton@ajc.com

Credit: Curtis Compton

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Braves left fielder Eddie Rosario hits a double during the seventh inning against the Houston Astros in game 1 of the World Series at Minute Maid Park, Tuesday October 26, 2021, in Houston, Tx. Curtis Compton / curtis.compton@ajc.com

Credit: Curtis Compton

The Braves celebrated the Fourth of July by returning two key players to their active roster.

Outfielder Eddie Rosario (eye) and left-hander Tyler Matzek (shoulder inflammation) completed their rehab assignments and were reinstated from the injured list Monday. The Braves optioned infielder Mike Ford, who turned 30 on Monday, to Triple-A Gwinnett and designated right-hander Silvino Bracho for assignment to open space for Rosario and Matzek.

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Rosario, 30, has been out since late April after undergoing an eye procedure to address blurred vision and swelling in his right retina. Rosario went 9-for-33 (.273) over an eight-game rehab assignment in Gwinnett. The 2021 National League Championship Series MVP will further bolster the team’s outfield depth and add another left-handed bat to a right-handed heavy offense. Rosario was 3-for-44 earlier this season, and acknowledged he tried to play through his eye problem. Rosario was in the lineup Monday against the Cardinals.

“It’s good to get him back in the mix, another left-handed bat,” manager Brian Snitker said. “We all know what we can do when he’s right, and hopefully he’s right now.”

On the value of adding another left-handed bat, Snitker added: “We’re on right-handed dominant, I think it’s nice to have another left-handed bat to mix in there and maybe balance things out a little. Without Ozzie (Albies) being here (because of an injury), he’s (another) switch hitter. That was one of our strengths in the postseason, the balance we could get in the lineup.”

The Braves have an abundance of outfielders with Ronald Acuna, Michael Harris, Adam Duvall, Marcell Ozuna, Guillermo Heredia and Rosario. Acuna and Harris are regular starters in right and center field, respectively, but the Braves have options to mix and match in whatever situations they see fit. The designated hitter also provides an additional avenue to getting players at-bats.

“If we get a hot hand, we’ll ride it,” Snitker said. “These things somehow have a way of working themselves out. It’s better to have a surplus than not, that’s for sure. We have a good surplus now.”

Matzek made two appearances at Triple-A, striking out five, before rejoining the club. The 31-year-old hasn’t pitched since May 10. Like Rosario, Matzek was an important figure in the Braves’ championship run last fall. Also like Rosario, he’ll try to correct a poor start to the campaign: Matzek had a 5.06 ERA over 13 appearances before he was sidelined.

“(Matzek) feels great,” Snitker said. “He’s been through these wars and everything. As long as he’s feeling good. We’ll work him back into this thing.”

The Braves opened a four-game series against the Cardinals at Truist Park on Monday. Both teams currently hold wild-card spots.

Another outfield update

Duvall is still “a couple days” away from swinging, Snitker said. Duvall is considered day-to-day with a hand injury he suffered over the weekend in Cincinnati. The Braves could platoon Duvall and Rosario, and as Snitker noted, the team won’t want to put a heavy workload on Rosario as he returns anyway.

Soroka latest

Right-hander Mike Soroka, recovering from a second Achilles tear, has been working out at the team’s Florida complex. He threw a live batting practice over the weekend. Snitker said Soroka is “getting closer” to embarking on a rehab stint. Still only 24, Soroka was an All-Star during his last complete season in 2019. He looms as a possible second-half addition, though whatever he provides should likely be viewed as a bonus.

“Until he goes out on rehab, you don’t know,” Snitker said when asked if the team would have an idea of what Soroka can provide before the Aug. 2 trade deadline. “Until he does that, I don’t think we can have any feel until he starts that process.”

Cardinals trio’s farewell

This week might be the Cardinals’ final series in Atlanta with legends Adam Wainwright, Yadier Molina (injured) and Albert Pujols, as each of the three are expected to retire at season’s end (Molina and Pujols have said they’ll retire, while Wainwright has indicated it’s likely).

“You’re not going to be able to get around the stadium with all those statues they’re going to have,” Snitker said. “They’re going to add three more, probably.”

Wainwright, 40, is one who got away from the Braves. The team drafted him in the first round in 2000 and traded him to St. Louis in the J.D. Drew deal of 2003. A Brunswick native, Wainwright then became a Cardinals great, earning three All-Star nods and spending 17 years as a steady presence for one of American sports’ premier organizations.

Snitker managed Wainwright when he was a Braves prospect at Double-A and has maintained a friendship with him.

“He’s a guy I consider a friend and will be the rest of my life,” Snitker said. “He’s a wonderful person. I admire his career and what he’s done. He’s one of those guys you always pull for, how he’s done it for this long and the success he’s had. He’s been fun to watch and follow.”