ATLANTA -- After waking Thursday morning, Ender Inciarte sent a text to Ronald Acuna Jr. and received the answer many were seeking regarding the health of the Braves' young phenom, who exited Wednesday night's 5-2 win after getting hit by Marlins right-hander Jose Urena's first-pitch fastball.
"[Acuna] said 'I'm ready to go,'" Inciarte said before the game. "I said, 'Well, I don't need to make the lineup, you've got to tell that to the manager.' He said, 'Give me his phone number, I need to tell him and you need to translate for me.'"
Shortly after learning Wednesday night's CT scan provided clean results, Braves manager Brian Snitker received a text from a number he did not recognize. The message, which Inciarte helped compose in English, included the words that led Snitker to put Acuna back in the leadoff spot for Thursday night's 5-3 loss to the Rockies at SunTrust Park.
"He texted me and said he was ready to go," Snitker said before the game. "It's nice to be 20 [years old] and strong. That was good. I'm as excited as can be he can go back out there and play again today."
So less than 24 hours after receiving a scare, Acuna was back in the leadoff spot aiming to further enrich his National League Rookie of the Year Award resume and aid the Braves in their pursuit of a postseason berth. He singled during his first-inning at-bat against Jon Gray and stole second base before going hitless in his final three at-bats, ending his bid to become the first player in Braves franchise history to homer in six straight games.
Acuna, who was struck just above his left elbow with a first-pitch 97.5-mph fastball -- the hardest pitch Urena has thrown to begin a start in his career, was wearing an elbow pad when he came to the plate on Thursday. He received a standing ovation from the crowd at SunTrust Park.
"It's great, especially after what happened last night, after getting hit by a hard pitch," Acuna said through an interpreter before the game. "It definitely hurt a lot when it happened, so it's a relief to come here and be able to play."
Major League Baseball suspended Urena six games for intentionally throwing at Acuna. Braves first-base coach Eric Young Sr. also received a one-game suspension in response to his actions during the two benches-clearing confrontations that unfolded after Acuna was hit.
Acuna had tallied eight homers in each of his previous eight games and was bidding to become the first Braves player to homer in six straight games. But instead of challenging the Braves' 20-year-old outfielder, Urena instead delivered the pitch that created furor throughout the Braves' dugout.
"I couldn't think straight," Inciarte said. "I was really mad he got hit. I didn't think [Urena] missed his spot. Maybe I'm wrong or maybe I'm right. Whether it was Ronald or anyone else, I don't want anything to happen to anyone here."
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Though he was in the video room which is located two staircases and approximately 30 yards from the dugout, Inciarte was one of the first Braves players to reach the field and approach Urena. Acuna remained on the ground for a few minutes and then crossed in front of the mound as he made his way toward first base.
"At the time, I wasn't sure if I was even going to be able to keep playing," Acuna said. "I felt a little dizzy at the time, but I was able to compose myself and start walking over there. In passing, he asked me if I was OK. I guess I took a little bit of exception to it because it felt like the pitch was intentional. To me, baseball is a man's game."
Even before receiving results of the X-rays and CT scans performed Wednesday night, Acuna was confident he avoided a fracture. He exited Wednesday's game because his left hand was numb after he took the field with the intent to play left field during the second inning.
"It didn't really surprise me," Acuna said. "I went up there with the same mentality, just trying to go up and have a good at-bat and do the things I always do. What happened yesterday, I didn't really like that."