LOS ANGELES -- Ronald Acuna Jr. passed the first test when he was cleared to begin performing baseball exercises on Friday. The Braves will monitor the 20-year-old phenom's progress over the next few days before determining when he might begin a Minor League rehab assignment.
"We'll just see where he is once we get back home after [Monday's off-day]," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "He feels good. It was good to just get him started."
Acuna hit off a tee and did some light jogging as he worked out at SunTrust Park on Friday. This marked the first time he completed baseball exercises since sustaining a mild strain of his left anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) during a May 27 game at Fenway Park.
"I saw some video of him and he looked fine," Snitker said. "We can start the progression now."
Acuna will continue to take various forms of batting practice and accelerate his running exercises over the next few days. Once he completes batting practice on the field and proves his knee reacts well to the cuts he'll need to make while running the bases or patrolling the outfield, the Braves will likely clear him to begin playing Minor League games.
If all goes well, there is a chance Acuna could be ready for next weekend's home series against the Padres. This sets up the possibility he could end up missing just three weeks with an injury that originally was feared to potentially be of the season-ending variety.
"What he's doing right now is amazing after looking at what happened," Snitker said. "What he's doing now is really good."
Allard among the candidates for Wednesday's start
As the Braves debate whether to give Mike Soroka a third rehab start and attempt to expand the Mets' woes against left-handed pitchers, the Braves are contemplating having Kolby Allard make his Major League debut during Wednesday afternoon's game against New York.
But the highly regarded 20-year-old left-hander is one of many options the Braves could turn to as they enter a stretch where they could have as many as six different pitchers start games within a six-game span beginning Tuesday. This would allow them to begin restructuring their rotation in preparation for Julio Teheran and Soroka to return from the disabled list.
Snitker said Allard, Soroka and Max Fried are among the candidates to start Wednesday's game. Another option would be to bring Brandon McCarthy back on regular rest. But with the Mets hitting .203 with a .576 OPS against left-handers this season entering Friday, Allard and Fried seemingly stand as the top candidates.
Because the Braves may not want to add Allard to their 40-man roster for what could be a spot start, the nod might go to Fried. But Fried was recently bothered by a blister and he allowed a season-high seven earned runs over five innings in Triple-A Gwinnett's loss to Lehigh Valley on Thursday.
After Soroka threw 73 pitches over 4 1/3 innings for Gwinnett this past Wednesday, Snitker indicated he might be ready to return. But the Braves skipper now says the team is once again thinking about having Soroka make three rehab starts before returning for the first time since shoulder inflammation sidelined him after his May 12 start.