The Braves got a huge boost today, with superstar outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. returning to the team and the lineup after an absence of over nine months due to an ACL tear last year. However, the club will still be trying to gradually ramp things up for him, according to David O’Brien of The Athletic, who relays word from manager Brian Snitker. Acuna will reportedly have something less than a full workload, getting occasional days in the designated hitter slot or sitting out day games after night games or missing games after playing and traveling the same day. This plan is intended to go until July 22, which is all fairly sensible given that Acuna is incredibly valuable to the team and is coming off a long layoff from a very serious injury. It’s worth pointing out, though, that Snitker also said the situation is fluid and will be re-evaluated daily. Acuna’s already beaten a timeline in his rehab once, as the club was targeting a May 6 return, but he’s back in the lineup tonight and has already stolen two bases, tying himself for the team lead on the year. No one should be surprised if he alters the plan and finds a way to take the reins off sooner rather than later. In fact, he might not even be aware of the plan, as he had this to say about the idea of him sitting on Friday: “I don’t know who said the plan was for me not to play. The way I’m looking at it is, I’m playing tomorrow. So I guess we’ll see what happens.” O’Brien later clarified that the club did tell Acuna about the plan, but he was too excited about his return to hear it. (Twitter links)
Some other health updates from around the league:
- Cardinals righty Jack Flaherty is making progress towards a return, as manager Oliver Marmol tells Jeff Jones of the Belleville News-Democrat that Flaherty will throw off a mound in the second week of May. He’s been dealing with an ailing shoulder since Spring Training began, the same shoulder that put him on the shelf for about a month last year. The club has been able to weather his absence so far, starting the season 11-7. The rotation has four pillars in Adam Wainwright, Miles Mikolas, Dakota Hudson and Steven Matz, but one wild card in Jordan Hicks. After working exclusively as a reliever since his MLB debut in 2018, Hicks has made two starts recently, throwing 46 pitches over 3 innings in the first outing, followed by 42 pitches over 2 innings in the second. Time will tell if this transition will work out, but there’s no question a healthy Flaherty will improve things, either by sending Hicks back to the bullpen or covering for an injury to someone else down the line. In 2019, he threw 196 1/3 innings with a 2.75 ERA, 29.9% strikeout rate and 7.1% walk rate, coming in fourth in NL Cy Young voting that year.
- It’s been almost a year since Kyle Lewis has played a major league game, with his last appearance coming May 31 of last year. A torn meniscus ended his season, with Lewis hitting many obstacles on the road to recovery since then. In a sign of progress, Mariners president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto tells Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times that Lewis is now participating in games at extended spring training, both playing in the outfield and slotting into the designated hitter role. None of the Mariners’ three regular outfielders are off to a blazing start to the season, as Julio Rodriguez, Jarred Kelenic and Jesse Winker each have a wRC+ between 54 and 77. (League average is 100.) Mitch Haniger was also off to a sluggish start before being sidelined by a positive Covid test. If Lewis can get back to his pre-injury form, he’d provide a boost to the lineup, as his career batting line is .258/.343/.450, 121 wRC+.
While yes, they needed the RAJ, I don’t think it was smart to call him up so hastily from his rehab assignment. It just seems so fast
The plan seems like a good one. Sometimes the athlete needs to be protected from himself. Now if the braves are around .500 a month from now and the Mets are pulling away that plan might go out the window if the fans start calling for it. But remember the fans don’t know anything and the last people anyone should ever listen to is the fans.
He proved he’s very much ready to go.
You Can Put It In The Books
It’s wise of Braves management to hold Ronald out some, at least initially. I suspect he’ll eventually put an end to that July 22 “plan” with his performance and his attitude though. The two SBs were nice tonight, but neither was particularly impressive (one on the back of a double steal and another basically uncontested). Looking forward to the Mets pitching locking down the Braves underwhelming offense (even with part time RAJ) next week. We’ll also see the July 22 “plan” in action with a day game after a doubleheader Tue-Wed. LFGM
Good luck trying to hold Acuna back. Honestly. The guy is so aggressive on the basepaths because he wants to convince FO he’s good. Glad he can “unimpressively” steal bases at will, while the rest of the league continues not to (he’s tied for team high after 1 game). This putting a governor on Acuna is silly when he’s gone through rehab. Rest him every once a week or get him in as DH but keep him in the lineup. This “7/22 plan” sounds like rhetoric.
You Can Put It In The Books
Totally agree. He’ll be playing everyday in no time. T
And yes did you see the look on Olson face when he got down to first with FB Coach EY, as the Cubs put him on. It was like WTF, he just took bat out of my hand on Acuna’s selfish, a world of talent. But its already known around the league he’s not a team player. He believes it’s all him.
The way you described the situation, the me first player would be Olson. For not being glad 2 players were now on base for the 3rd hitter.
I’ll take bases loaded with 2 outs over 1st and 3rd with 2 outs.
Plus stealing a base always puts pressure on the pitcher, not only during the current AB, but in future ones.
I’m 100% that Olsen wasn’t mad at Acuña for steeling, but at the pitcher for walking him.
LOL at the thought of a teammate being mad at another for successfully stealing a base that may have resulted in an IBB. I like that hunger, but seriously, Olson isn’t mad at anyone but not being able to let the big dog eat.
Man some fans have the dumbest takes.
bravesfan, Acuña put himself in scoring position, which helps the team.
“But it’s already known around the league he’s not a team player. He believes it’s all him.”
Care to back up that assertion with a shred of real, hard evidence?
All about him? You better believe it’s all about him. He is talented ungodly beyond belief. He’s the one who stirs the drink. He’s the one who dictates the pace. He’s the one who the opposing team stresses over.
In terms of last night’s stolen base, would you rather pitch to a slumping Olson with men on 1st and 3rd? Or a hot Riley with the bases loaded? That’s fairly simple conclusion…
Perfect time to option Julio Rodriguez and gain an extra year of control without it looking fishy.
dude hasn’t played in AAA ans besides the steals isn’t doing all that hot. shouldn’t have started him in the Majors to begin with.
To go further, Julio has over a .800 OPS, 75% of his extra base hits, and less than a 22% K rate the last 7 days. Every week his numbers have gotten better over the previous week (150pts a pop). That is showing he’s settling in.
Kelenic is the one that should be in AAA, not Julio. If you can’t see that Julio has been fine since the first road trip, you’re not watching the games.
“gradually ramp things up for him” after passing on an opportunity to DH him.
Biffs the name, speculating my game
Alot of really good hitters are hitting below ,200 right now.
Do the Mariners have the worst performing OF and DH so far this season?
Possibly, but they have the best performing first baseman and shortstop so far this season, so what’s your point?