ATLANTA (AP) — Ronald Acuña Jr. was taking part in the “Call of Duty” online game when he obtained an sudden FaceTime name at 1 a.m.
Atlanta Braves basic supervisor Alex Anthopoulos wished to know if Acuña was prepared to play.
Not one other rehab sport in Triple-A, thoughts you.
Anthopoulos was speaking a couple of return to the large leagues.
“Oh yeah,” Acuña replied. “Let’s go! Right now!”
One of baseball’s most dynamic gamers got here off the injury listing Thursday, per week forward of schedule and fewer than 10 month after he sustained a major knee injury.
Acuña was instantly inserted into the Braves lineup, taking his acquainted leadoff spot and taking part in proper subject in opposition to the Chicago Cubs. He obtained an enormous ovation from the Truist Park crowd as he headed to proper, and one other standing ovation when he batted for the primary time within the majors in 292 days.
Acuña took the primary pitch from former teammate Drew Smyly for a ball, after which grounded out to third base.
“It really was a long, difficult process,” Acuña mentioned earlier than the sport. “I’m just really excited to be back.”
The Braves are actually excited to have him again. The reigning World Series champions are off to a sluggish begin, successful simply eight of their first 19 video games and already falling 5 1/2 video games behind the NL East-leading New York Mets.
At the time, he was hitting .283 with 24 homers, 52 RBIs, 17 stolen bases and a .990 OPS in 82 video games.
“What he can do offensively, defensively, on the bases, he’s a game changer,” mentioned third baseman Austin Riley, who was one of many gamers who got here up huge for the Braves after Acuña went down. “To have him back in the lineup is huge.”
Acuña had tears in his eyes when he was carted off the sector in South Florida.
Young was one of many athletes who texted Acuña to want him properly in his return to the Braves.
It was initially thought the Braves would restrict Acuña to designated hitter duties early in his return, lessening the possibilities of reinjuring the knee, however his efficiency at Triple-A Gwinnett eased any considerations.
Acuña was 2 for five in his closing sport of the rehab stint Wednesday night time and hit .368 with three stolen bases in six Triple-A video games.
“He’s done everything,” manager Brian Snitker said. “He’s stolen bases, he’s diving back into bases, he’s sliding, he’s made plays in the outfield There’s no limitations at all.”
The solely concession to the injury will probably be Acuña’s schedule. He will not play on days the Braves journey, and he will not play day video games after night time video games. Also, he’ll be restricted to proper subject when he performs the sector — no extra middle subject, a minimum of for now — and the common DH offers the Braves some flexibility to preserve him within the lineup with out having to choose up a glove.
Snitker mentioned the present plan is to give Acuña common days off till he is a full 12 months faraway from the injury in July.
Of course, that might change if he experiences no setbacks. Already, his projected return to the Braves was pushed up from the May 6 date the crew initially set.
Even if he isn’t in a position to play each day, Acuña’s mere presence must be an enormous increase to the struggling Braves. He’s a two-time All-Star who received Rookie of the Year honors in 2018 and adopted up with 41 homers, 101 RBIs and 37 stolen bases in 2019.
Acuña was on the way in which to one other stellar season when he tore up his knee, which meant he may solely watch because the Braves — after spending a lot of the season underneath .500 — improbably captured their first World Series title since 1995.
He is keen to be a part of a championship on the sector.
“It motivates me for this year, and will motivate me for years to come,” Acuña mentioned by interpreter Franco Garcia. “Obviously, it’s not the same being able to play in the World Series as it is to just watch it from the dugout nursing an injury. That’s obviously the dream that every kid has growing up, wanting to play in a World Series.”
He added, confidently, “There will be more World Series to come.”
If something, Acuña’s feels he is gotten even sooner than he was earlier than the injury. He hopes to be much more of a menace on the basepaths.
“Throughout the entire rehabilitation process, there was an added focus on my legs and developing those muscles,” he said. “I think I can add speed there. I’m coming in with the intention of running a little bit more.”
The Braves designated outfielder Alex Dickerson for task to clear a spot on the lively roster.
The choice to reinstate Acuña may have been motivated by dropping Eddie Rosario for eight to 12 weeks. Rosario, the MVP of the NL Championship Series final season, had a laser process on Wednesday to right blurred imaginative and prescient and swelling in his proper eye.
The Braves went into the finale in opposition to the Cubs searching for their first sequence win of the season.
Acuña mentioned he isn’t involved about Atlanta’s sluggish begin.
“It’s not how you start,” he mentioned. “It’s the way you end.”
For Acuña, it begins now.
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