Acuña to play 5 games in Venezuela this winter

November 4th, 2022

is the biggest Major League star that Venezuela has produced in recent years. However, the country’s devoted baseball fanbase has not had the chance to see the star right fielder in action on their own soil. 

Until now. 

Acuña has received permission from the Atlanta Braves to suit up for the Tiburones de la Guaira of the Venezuelan Professional Baseball League for the first time this winter. While the Tiburones represent Acuña’s hometown of La Guaira, the team plays its home games at Estadio Universitario in the capital city of Caracas.

Acuña made the announcement in a video posted to the Tiburones’ Twitter on Friday. Atlanta general manager Alex Anthopoulos confirmed to Mark Bowman of that Acuña has the green light to play five games with La Guaira, strictly as the designated hitter. 

The Tiburones have not announced a date for Acuña’s debut.

The decision to keep Acuña from playing the outfield in Venezuela reflects the Braves’ desire to be cautious with the three-time All-Star’s surgically repaired right knee. Acuña tore his right ACL on July 10, 2021, while attempting to make a leaping catch in right field in Miami and as a result, he missed the rest of the season, including the team’s World Series run.

Acuña, who will turn 25 on Dec. 18, made his 2022 season debut on April 28 and slashed .266./.351/.413 with 15 home runs and 50 RBIs in 119 games for an Atlanta team that won the National League East. He earned his third All-Star selection this year via the fan vote and competed in the Home Run Derby in Los Angeles.

However, lingering right knee discomfort caused Acuña to miss a handful of games at the end of August. He also underwent an MRI for right groin discomfort in May, though neither ailment required a stint on the injured list.

While Acuña’s debut with La Guaira will mark his first time playing winter ball in Venezuela, he does have experience playing professionally outside of the U.S. As a prospect, he appeared in 20 games for the Melbourne Aces of the Australian Baseball League during the 2016-17 offseason after missing most of the 2016 Minor League campaign due to an injury.

The Braves signed Acuña as an international free agent out of Venezuela in 2014.