It has now been over three months since Ronald Acuna Jr.’s season came to a tragic end. It was July 10th that the Atlanta superstar left the game after tearing his ACL while attempting to make a leaping catch on a Jazz Chisholm fly ball. Last night, Gabriel Burns of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution published an interview with Acuna, the first time he has spoken to the media since that day. Through team interpreter Franco Garcia, Acuna spoke on various subjects related to the injury, the intervening months, as well as the future.
When asked about his current status, Acuna said he is “maybe 70%,” and then gave more details about the next steps. “I think the plan is to start jogging maybe around November and December. And you know, sort of just light activities like that, and then maybe around January or February start doing baseball activities. But that’s all (for) the trainers (to decide).”
When asked about whether he would be back in April or May, Acuna again deferred to the team’s medical staff. “If the trainers say May, then May. If the trainers say April, then April. So really, whatever the trainers and doctors and team medical staff say.”
A healthy Acuna would be great for baseball and the club next year, as he is one of the most talented players in the league. Before the injury, Acuna was in the midst of a fourth-consecutive excellent season that was on pace to be his best. Through 82 games, he hit 24 home runs and stole 17 bases, putting up a slash line of .283/.394/.596, for a wRC+ of 157 and 4.2 fWAR. As part of the extension he signed with the club in 2019, Acuna is under contract with Atlanta through 2026, with a pair of club options for 2027 and 2028.
After his injury, Atlanta made a series of trades to totally remake their outfield, acquiring Joc Pederson, Adam Duvall, Eddie Rosario and Jorge Soler. Those four helped the club surge to an NL East title and into the NLCS, where they currently hold a 2-0 series lead over the Dodgers. However, three out of those four are heading into free agency in a few weeks, with Duvall the only one still under team control for 2022, meaning that Acuna’s status is incredibly important for the team’s plans going forward. (Pederson has a mutual option, which rarely ends up being exercised by both parties. Duvall also has a mutual option but can be retained via arbitration if the option is not picked up.) If the outlook continues along the trajectory Acuna laid out, it bodes very well for both the club and the sport.