Posted on May 28, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine

Atlanta Braves Ronald Acuña

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The Atlanta Braves were holding their breath after watching rookie sensation Ronald Acuna walk off the field during Sunday’s win over the Red Sox. However, they did get some good news on Monday. MRI results revealed a mild ACL sprain in his left knee and a lower back contusion. The ailments will be enough to send Acuna to the 10-day DL. But the prognosis is far better than the Braves had anticipated, as Acuna managed to escape without a potentially season-ending injury.

During Sunday’s game, Acuna appeared to slip on first base while running out a ground ball. He landed awkwardly and fell to the ground. Ultimately, Acuna was able to walk himself back to the dugout. Nevertheless, the way Acuna fell to the ground made the Braves nervous about how the test results would come back.

“I thought his season was over when it happened when I went out there,” remarked Braves manager Brian Snitker. “Now it’s very optimistic.”

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Snitker compared it to an injury Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper suffered last season. Harper ended up missing six weeks of action after taking an awkward tumble after slipping on first base at full speed. Atlanta doesn’t have a timeline for when Acuna will return. But they are optimistic he won’t require an extended stint on the DL.

“The kid plays full-out,” Snitker said Monday. “His legs are a big part of his game. So we’ll just make sure he’s really good before we get him back out there.”

The 20-year old Acuna is currently hitting .265 with an OPS of .779. He hit the ground running after making his big league debut in late April. Despite a relatively high strikeout rate, Acuna has contributed five home runs and seven doubles in his first 29 major league games. He’s also played splendid defense while quickly becoming Atlanta’s everyday left fielder.

Acuna’s injury leaves the Braves short-handed in the outfield. Preston Tucker was currently serving as the team’s fourth outfielder. He will become Atlanta’s primary left fielder, which he was early in the year before Acuna was promoted. Tucker is currently hitting .278 with an OPS of .768, thriving over the past month as a part-time player.

However, the Braves began Monday with no outfielders on their 40-man roster aside from Acuna, Tucker, Ender Inciarte, and Nick Markakis. Lane Adams contributed early in the year, but he’s no longer in the organization. Peter Bourjos also saw time but was hitting just .120 when the Braves designated him for assignment in April. Dustin Peterson has been called up to take Acuna’s roster spot. He gives the Braves an extra outfielder, but the former second-round pick has posted modest numbers during his minor league career.

The good news for the Braves is that Acuna’s absence should be relatively brief. He will no doubt be missed as the Braves try to hold onto a slim lead atop the NL East. However, with test results indicating that Acuna will miss weeks rather than months, the Braves can rest a little easier knowing their rookie sensation will be back eventually.

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