Acuna progressing in rehab, itching to rejoin Braves


When someone asked Braves manager Brian Snitker for an update Tuesday on rookie sensation Ronald Acuna and when he might return from the disabled list, he smiled.

“If you asked him I’m sure he’d tell you he’s ready to play today,” Snitker said.

And he was almost right. 

Acuna, recovering from a sprained ligament and contusion in his left knee and lower-back contusion, all of which occurred in a frightening tumble May 27 at Boston, is progressing toward a return from the DL and did some running and hitting in the batting cage in the past few days.

“If it was up to me, I’d be ready to play tomorrow,” Acuna said through an interpreter Tuesday afternoon, before doing more rigorous running in the outfield before a game against the Mets at SunTrust Park. “But we’re just taking the right steps and going through the process. 

“Ultimately it’s their decision, and I’m going to follow it.”

When asked if he might begin a rehab assignment as soon as Thursday, Acuna replied, “I’d say probably between Thursday and the weekend, I’ll probably be doing some rehab games in the minor leagues.”

To which Snitker smiled. He wasn’t sure when Acuna would begin his rehab assignment, to be determined by the medical staff and general manager.

“I don’t know -- he’s not going to make that decision,” Snitker said, smiling in appreciation of Acuna’s enthusiasm and confidence.

Asked what else Acuna needed to do before he’d be ready for a rehab assignment, Snitker said, “The cutting, throwing, actually putting cleats on and getting out over your front leg (throwing), things like that. Rounding the bases, hitting the bag. He hasn’t done the rigorous baseball stuff yet, but he’s trending in that direction.”

He added, “From what I witnessed in Boston, it’s unbelievable that he’s doing as good as he is right now.”

The incident at Boston indeed looked far worse to everyone who witnessed it than the injuries turned out to be. Initial fears that he dislocated the knee or ankle or broke a bone were alleviated when Acuna stood up and walked off the field after being attended to by a Braves trainer.

But doctors -- and keyboard doctors -- were among those who opined on social media between then and a diagnosis the next day that Acuna probably tore ligaments, despite being able to walk.

An MRI showed no structural damage, no tears. Acuna began hitting balls off a tee barely a week later.

“I feel good, thank God,” he said Tuesday. “And obviously the injury, the way it happened, looked a lot worse on video. We were all expecting a lot worse and luckily that’s not the case. I feel good right now.”

He’s watched video of the incident multiple times, so Tuesday seemed a good time to ask Acuna what he thought caused his cleat to stick in the dirt after he’d crossed first base on an infield single. That’s what hyperextended the knee and launched him into the air in an ugly tumble.

“I think it was kind of trying to slow down my momentum as abruptly as I did,” he said. “And that’s just a habit that I have, and unfortunately it’s just part of the game. It’s the adrenaline that I have, that I play with. So I was just trying to slow down too quickly.”

Acuna was asked if his making a “safe” sign with his arms as he crossed the plate might’ve been a contributing factor.

“It’s hard to say and I really don’t know what the best way to say it is because I’ve always done that,” Acuna said. “So it’s never happened before and the only thing I can really attest to it happening was the cleat getting stuck on the ground, just the impact there.”


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Atlanta Braves

Braves confident in Ozzie Albies’ development
Braves confident in Ozzie Albies’ development

As the Braves surged in the second half, their second baseman was a borderline offensive liability. Ozzie Albies was the MVP of April. He mustered a franchise-record 22 extra-base hits that month, eventually knocking 20 homers before the midseason break. He just missed starting the All-Star Game, but made the roster nonetheless. The 21-year-old was...
For Braves, this winter is chance to join MLB’s upper class
For Braves, this winter is chance to join MLB’s upper class

Ronald Acuna and Ozzie Albies stood over the dugout railing at the conclusion of Game 4, watching the Dodgers celebrate on the SunTrust Park infield. The Braves had a front-row view of the franchise they want to become. The Dodgers were deep, star-studded, stupendously managed top to bottom and blessed with intangibles out the wazoo.  As such...
Dansby Swanson expected to be 100 percent before spring training
Dansby Swanson expected to be 100 percent before spring training

The Braves aren’t concerned that shortstop Dansby Swanson’s hand injury will linger into next season. Swanson, 24, was left off the postseason roster after partially tearing a ligament in his left hand. He left a Sept. 25 game in New York with hand discomfort after fouling off a pitch and was shut down for the season. “He just needs...
Which Braves pitchers should return in 2019?
Which Braves pitchers should return in 2019?

Of the eight youngest pitchers to start a game in the majors this season, five were Braves.  Four of those young starters won their major league debut — matching a feat that’s only occurred once in 110 seasons.  Combined Bryse Wilson, Kolby Allard, Luiz Gohora, Mike Soroka and Touki Toussaint only pitched for 89-1/3 innings...
Which Braves position players should return in 2019?
Which Braves position players should return in 2019?

The Atlanta Braves got younger as the 2018 season progressed.  The average age of players on the active roster on Opening Day was 29. On the final day of the season the average age was 27.  On May 1 in New York, the Braves started the three youngest players in the majors: Ozzie Albies (21 years, 114 days); Ronald Acuna, (20 years, 134 days)...
More Stories