ATLANTA -- Within a span of approximately 24 hours, the Braves went from fearing Ronald Acuna Jr. had suffered a season-ending injury to thinking he could possibly return to action within the next two weeks.
Results of an MRI exam performed Monday morning in Atlanta showed Acuna has a mild ACL sprain in his left knee and a lower back contusion. The 20-year-old phenom has been placed on the 10-day disabled list and will be re-examined when he's eligible to rejoin the Braves.
"I feel better than I did yesterday," Acuna said through an interpreter. "I just thank God it wasn't worse than it was."
Acuna will be eligible to be activated on June 7, which is an off-day for the Braves. So if all goes well, there is a chance he could rejoin the Braves' lineup during the June 8-10 road series against the Dodgers.
After being evaluated Monday, Acuna arrived at SunTrust Park and began lobbying to play a few hours later in the second game of a doubleheader against the Mets. This gave the Braves even more reason to feel good about quickly he might return. But the team still took the cautious route by placing him on the DL and purchasing the contract of Dustin Peterson, who will now share left field with Preston Tucker.
"He felt better than what I thought he would," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "But then you get the MRI [results] and all that kind of stuff. It's better to just make sure with a young kid. I don't want to take even a remote chance of hitting the bag wrong again or something like that."
Still, while early indications have led the Braves to be optimistic, the team will certainly be cautious while evaluating Acuna's progress over the next week.
Acuna was injured as he completed his sprint to record an infield single during the seventh inning of Sunday's 7-1 win over the Red Sox at Fenway Park. After crossing the bag, his left leg buckled in a gruesome manner and he went airborne before landing on his back.
"When it first happened, it felt like I wasn't going to be able to walk," Acuna said. "My leg was hurting. Right after that, I felt a little woozy and nauseous."
As Acuna remained on the ground while being attended to by the Braves' medical staff, fans gasped when the replay was shown on the stadium's video board.
"I thought his season was over when I went out there," Snitker said. "Now, I'm very optimistic."
There was instantly reason to think Acuna might have torn his ACL or MCL. This fear remained even after he rose to his feet and walked toward the clubhouse with a limp. But there was also some thought he might have suffered a bone bruise, much like Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper sustained on a similar play late last season.
"I've never seen anything like that," Acuna said. "I know it was similar to what happened to Bryce Harper. I can't remember if he walked off on his own or not, but I was able to walk off and I'm just very grateful."
Once Acuna spent a few hours being evaluated at a Boston hospital Sunday evening, the Braves became more optimistic. When Acuna took a commercial flight to Atlanta late Sunday night, he used a wheelchair to prevent him from having to place undue pressure as he navigated his way through the airport.
"He's walking around good," Snitker said. "I think it's the right move just to make sure. The kid plays full out. His legs are a big part of his game. So, we'll just make sure he's really good before we get him back out there."