MIAMI – The Atlanta Braves will have to adjust to playing without All-Star outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. for the remainder of the season.
The 23-year-old Acuña tore the ACL in his right knee in the fifth inning of Atlanta’s 5-3 victory over the Miami Marlins on Saturday night.
An MRI showed the severity of the injury and the Braves made the announcement after the game, finishing the year for one of the most dynamic players in the majors.
“I knew something was wrong, but I didn’t know the severity of it until the doctor notified me later on," Acuña said on Sunday through an interpreter.
"I have no control over what happened and just have to do my best to come back stronger than ever.”
Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said the injury is another setback that the team will have to handle.
”(Acuña's injury) is just another punch in the gut that we have to endure,” Snitker said on Sunday morning before the series finale against the Marlins.
“He’s a young strong guy, he’ll recover great and he’ll continue a Hall of Fame career when he’s done.”
Snitker said that he did have a very good conversation with Acuña shortly after the MRI results were received.
“He was in great spirits,” Snitker said. “He had a lot of rehab and procedural questions; (our talk) was better than I anticipated quite honestly. There’s a lot of unknowns for someone who has never been through something like that.”
No timetable has been set for the surgery.
Snitker said the Braves will not use of the loss of Acuña as an excuse in the second half of the season.
’We just have to continue to play,” Snitker said. “We have to rally the forces and continue to go. That’s what you do in our business; you just keep going.”
Acuña landed awkwardly on his right leg after jumping on the warning track in right field trying to catch a drive from Jazz Chisholm Jr. in the fifth inning. He slammed into the outfield wall and crumbled on the warning track, immediately grabbing his right knee while Chisholm sprinted for an inside-the-park homer.
Acuña tried to walk off but dropped back to the ground in shallow right field. A trainer tended to him while a cart was retrieved, and concerned teammates gathered quietly around him.
Tears welled in the 23-year-old’s eyes as he waited. When the cart pulled around to the nearby warning track, he had to be helped over and did not put any weight on his right leg.
Acuña, who made his big league debut in 2018 and was the National League Rookie of the Year, is hitting .283 with 24 home runs and 52 RBIs for the three-time defending NL East champions, who entered Sunday four games behind the first-place New York Mets.
"I know the team needs me and I want to be there for them, but I have the utmost confidence in them and I know they will do great,” he said.
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