ATLANTA -- Though he is still progressing through the early stages of reintroducing himself to baseball activities, Ronald Acuna Jr. says he's ready to begin playing in games. This is the kind of eager anticipation expected from a 20-year-old phenom who has been sidelined for the past two weeks.But as
ATLANTA -- Though he is still progressing through the early stages of reintroducing himself to baseball activities, Ronald Acuna Jr. says he's ready to begin playing in games. This is the kind of eager anticipation expected from a 20-year-old phenom who has been sidelined for the past two weeks.
But as the Braves are providing indication Acuna might be at least a week away from rejoining their lineup, they are maintaining the cautious, responsible approach expected from a team with an immensely talented player.
"I'm glad he's feeling good and everything is heading in the right direction," Braves manager Brian Snitker said when asked about MLB Pipeline's top overall prospect.
When told Acuna hopes to begin playing in Minor League rehab games at some point this weekend, Snitker chuckled and said, "He's not going to make that decision."
The Braves have not determined when Acuna might begin playing Minor League rehab games. The young outfielder has spent the past few days steadily increasing his activities and effort level while completing baseball exercises. But Acuna did not take batting practice on the field with the Braves before Tuesday night's game against the Mets and has not yet tested his left knee by rounding the bases or making throws closer to game speed.
Acuna will enhance his activity over the next few days. There's certainly a chance he could begin playing in Minor League games before the end of the upcoming weekend. If all goes well, he could be activated from the disabled list at some point next week.
"If it was up to me, I'd be ready to play tomorrow," Acuna said. "But I think we're just taking the right steps and going through the process. It's their decision and I'm going to follow it."
Acuna's running exercises have been limited to sprints and other straight patterns. He says he hasn't felt any recent soreness. But the Braves are taking caution as the Venezuelan native recovers from the sprained left anterior cruciate ligament he sustained when his cleat got caught a step or two after he crossed first base during an infield single on May 27 at Fenway Park.
Given how his left leg buckled, there were initial fears he might have sustained a season-ending injury.
"He hasn't done rigorous baseball stuff yet," Snitker said. "But he's trending in that direction. I've seen the video of him running and doing all that kind of stuff. That's really good. From what I witnessed in Boston, that's unbelievable he's doing as good as he is right now."
Acuna hit .265 with five home runs and a .779 OPS as he played just 29 games before sustaining the injury. Still, the widespread appreciation of his talent was seen on Monday, when All-Star balloting results showed he had garnered the fifth-most votes among National League outfielders.
Odds and ends
• As Julio Teheran completed a bullpen session on Tuesday, he focused on how his previously bruised right thumb reacted to the pressure placed on it as he threw breaking balls. The Braves have not yet decided if Teheran will come off the disabled list to make Friday's start against the Padres.
• Snitker says he has just stuck with the hot hand as he has given Charlie Culberson a majority of the starts in left field since Acuna went on the disabled list. Preston Tucker has started just four of the 15 games Acuna has missed.
Because Wednesday afternoon's series finale against the Mets begins at 12:10 p.m. ET, parking in all stadium lots will be reserved to those fans with a permit. The Braves have asked fans to either purchase a parking pass or use Uber. The only lots available for pre-purchase are North Atlanta High School (East 68) and Cumberland Community Church. To purchase a pass visit braves.com/parking.
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.