Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News

Acuna closing in on start of rehab assignment

Snitker: 'I think it's going to be sooner rather than later'
MLB.com @mlbbowman

TORONTO -- Braves manager Brian Snitker wasn't ready to definitively say when Ronald Acuna Jr. will begin playing in Minor League rehab games. But as Snitker spoke before Tuesday night's game against the Blue Jays, he indicated the young outfielder is almost ready to take another step toward returning to Atlanta's lineup.

"He's doing really well," Snitker said. "I'm not sure when he'll go out [on a rehab assignment]. But I think it's going to be sooner rather than later."

View Full Game Coverage

TORONTO -- Braves manager Brian Snitker wasn't ready to definitively say when Ronald Acuna Jr. will begin playing in Minor League rehab games. But as Snitker spoke before Tuesday night's game against the Blue Jays, he indicated the young outfielder is almost ready to take another step toward returning to Atlanta's lineup.

"He's doing really well," Snitker said. "I'm not sure when he'll go out [on a rehab assignment]. But I think it's going to be sooner rather than later."

View Full Game Coverage

Acuna has spent the past two days progressing through what could be described as a mini-Spring Training at the Braves' complex in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The 20-year-old phenom hasn't experienced any problems with his left knee as he's taken live batting practice and completed a variety of running exercises that have forced him to make sudden motions he'll experience in games.

"It's a better situation for him because he is down there and can do all the drills," Snitker said. "He's always hit off some live pitching, which he'll do again. To accelerate things, it's easier for him to do it there than it is for us because there are guys there specifically just to work him out."

If Acuna continues to progress, there's certainly a chance he could join Triple-A Gwinnett within the next couple days to begin playing rehab games. The outfielder, who ranks as MLB Pipeline's top prospect, has been sidelined since suffering a mild sprain of his left anterior cruciate ligament on May 27.

Rotation plans 
Brandon McCarthy is not projected to start any of the Braves' next five games. But while it appears McCarthy has lost his rotation spot, Atlanta does not plan to use him as a reliever until it is sure Mike Foltynewicz will come off the disabled list to start Sunday afternoon's game against the Orioles.

Foltynewicz is scheduled to throw a side session on Friday in Atlanta. If all goes well, he'll be cleared to make his first start since exiting his June 12 outing after five innings because of tightness in his right triceps muscle.

As things currently stand, the Braves are planning to have Sean Newcomb (Friday), Julio Teheran (Saturday) and Foltynewicz (Sunday) serve as their starting pitchers during the Orioles series. This arrangement would allow Newcomb and Teheran to make their respective starts with just one extra day of rest.

McCarthy has allowed just two earned runs while pitching into the sixth inning of two of his past three outings. But opponents have hit .335 and compiled a .368 on-base percentage against him as he has produced a 6.26 ERA over his past eight starts.

With Anibal Sanchez producing a 2.10 ERA through his first six starts, there simply is not currently room for McCarthy in a rotation that has proven to be one of the team's strengths.

Praise to predecessors
As Braves executive vice president Alex Anthopoulos reunited with the Toronto media members who covered him when he served as the Blue Jays' general manager from 2009-15, he said his team's success this season is a product of the sound decisions made by the men who preceded him as the Braves' GM.

"We didn't know what to expect," Anthopoulos said. "We knew there was a lot of talent here. All the GMs before me -- John Schuerholz, Frank Wren and John Hart -- these guys did an amazing job. The scouting department and development department, there's a ton of talent here. Those guys deserve all the credit. I know in their own way they're going to watch and follow and they all should be very proud of what is going on here."

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com.

Atlanta Braves, Ronald Acuna Jr.