ATLANTA -- Ronald Acuna Jr. had no trouble throwing his left leg over the railing to join in the celebration that followed Johan Camargo's walk-off home run Tuesday night. The young phenom has also walked around the Braves' clubhouse this week with no visible indication he is just a few
ATLANTA -- Ronald Acuna Jr. had no trouble throwing his left leg over the railing to join in the celebration that followed Johan Camargo's walk-off home run Tuesday night. The young phenom has also walked around the Braves' clubhouse this week with no visible indication he is just a few days removed from what was initially feared to be a significant left knee injury.
"He feels good," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "He probably feels like he could go out there and play right now. But we're just going to evaluate him on a daily basis. We're not going to get him back out there [doing baseball activities] until we are sure he is ready."
Acuna is baseball's top prospect per MLB Pipeline, and this week he could also be described as one of the game's most fortunate players. The 20-year-old outfielder's left leg buckled and turned awkwardly after he sprinted through first base with an infield single in Sunday's win over the Red Sox.
Immediate concerns about a possible season-ending injury were erased less than 24 hours later when a MRI exam showed just a mild strain of the left knee's anterior cruciate ligament.
There's a possibility Acuna could return to the Braves' lineup as early as June 8, for the start of a three-game series against the Dodgers. But Snitker said the team's medical staff has not yet targeted a date for Acuna to begin running, taking batting practice or any of the other steps he will need to take before being cleared to play again.
As Acuna was sidelined throughout this week's four-game set against the Mets, the Braves went without the availability of an outfielder they could have confidently put in center field had Ender Inciarte been injured during a game.
The team addressed this potential problem on Thursday, when Peter Bourjos' contract was purchased and Dustin Peterson was optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett. Peterson was promoted to Atlanta on Monday, primarily because Bourjos was not eligible to be placed back on Atlanta's roster until Thursday.
The Braves released Bourjos on April 29 and re-signed him to a Minor League contract on May 1. A player who is released and re-signs with the club on a Minor League deal has to wait 30 days before being eligible to be added to that organization's Major League roster.
Bourjos hit .120 (3-for-25) in 18 games for Atlanta earlier this year. He'll be available to play center field if necessary and serve as a late-inning defensive replacement for left fielder Preston Tucker, who will likely get three starts this weekend as the Nationals are scheduled to start three right-handed pitchers.
To create a 40-man roster spot for Bourjos, the Braves released right-handed pitcher Aaron Blair, who is currently recovering from right shoulder surgery.
Blair's rehab will be financially covered by the Braves and the team has already told the once highly regarded prospect there may be an interest in re-signing him next year.
In order to place Blair on the 60-day disabled list to create a roster spot, the Braves would have first had to recall him from Gwinnett's roster. Had they gone that route, the 26-year-old right-hander would have drawn a Major League salary and accrued service time as he spent the remainder of this season sidelined without any clear indication of when he might be healthy enough to pitch again.
Part of the package the Braves received from the D-backs in exchange for Shelby Miller after the 2015 season, Blair posted a 7.59 ERA in 15 starts for Atlanta in 2016. He made just one start at the Major League level last year and began this season with Gwinnett.