CINCINNATI -- Ronald Acuña Jr. will wait at least one more day before returning to the Braves’ lineup.
Acuña missed a second straight start when lingering lower back discomfort prevented him from being part of the lineup for Thursday’s series opener against the Reds at Great American Ball Park. The young outfielder began dealing with back spasms before Wednesday’s series finale against the Mets in New York.
“He’s still sore,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “They worked on him all day. They just hope with another day [of rest], he’ll be ready to go tomorrow. He’s literally day to day.”
Snitker believes Acuña’s back discomfort might simply be a product of the daily grind of playing and traveling.
“We’re on these different hotel beds, and he’s played a lot of innings this week,” Snitker said. “It’s just one of those things.”
Acuña is hitting .285 with 20 homers and a .996 OPS. He leads all National League players with a 3.6 fWAR (Fangraphs’ WAR model).
Snitker said Max Fried should be ready to come off the injured list when he is eligible next week. The skipper also said the club plans to give Charlie Morton extra rest heading into his next start.
While it makes sense to give Morton an extra day or two of rest after he threw seven-plus innings in his past two starts, this decision also allows the Braves to use their top two starting pitchers during next week’s series against the first-place Mets in Atlanta.
By skipping Morton on Sunday, the Braves would give him two extra days of rest heading into Tuesday night’s series opener against the Mets. Fried could then be activated to start on Wednesday.
There doesn’t seem to be any concern about the blister that forced Fried to be placed on the injured list.
“He could have pitched if this was a playoff situation,” Snitker said. “But we just wanted to get ahead of it and not create more trouble for ourselves.”
Kyle Muller would be eligible to return to start Sunday’s series finale against the Reds.
Looking to upgrade their pitching staff, the Braves purchased the contracts of veteran pitchers Jesse Chavez and Tanner Roark from Triple-A Gwinnett. The move was announced just before Chavez started Thursday night’s game against the Reds. He was scheduled to throw 2-3 innings.
Chavez and Roark could be used as relievers over the next few days and weeks. To make room for them on the 25-man roster, right-handed pitchers Kyle Wright and Ty Tice were optioned to Triple-A. To make room for the veterans on the 40-man roster, left-handed pitcher Tucker Davidson and catcher Alex Jackson were transferred to the 60-day injured list.
The Braves said there was no setback for Davidson, who has been shut down since being diagnosed with a strained left forearm on June 16. The sense is that by the time he is cleared to begin throwing, he would need nearly 60 days to regain necessary arm and leg strength.