An MRI revealed that Ronald Acuna Jr. has some irritation in his right meniscus, according to multiple Braves beat writers (including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Justin Toscano). Acuna is expected to be ready for Opening Day, though he will visit Dr. Neal ElAttrache in two days for further examination of his knee.
Everything seems precautionary at this point, and naturally Acuna and the Braves want to be as careful as possible given Acuna’s injury history. Acuna suffered a torn right ACL in July 2021 and didn’t return to action until late April 2022, with Acuna’s relatively down numbers (.266/.351/.413 over 533 plate appearances) during the 2022 season indicating that he wasn’t quite back to 100 percent after the long layoff.
Needless to say, Acuna was back in full form for an all-timer of a 2023 season. The outfielder hit .337/.416/.596 with 41 homers and league-leading totals in hits (217), runs (149), and stolen bases (73). With the latter statistic, Acuna became the first player in baseball history to hit 40 homers and steal at least 50 bases in a season. Acuna was a unanimous choice as NL MVP last November, and the Cooperstown trajectory is in view considering that Acuna is still only 26 years old.
More will be known about Acuna’s status after his consult Monday, and it could be that the meniscus issue indeed just costs Acuna a bit of Spring Training time. There stands a chance that Acuna might be placed on the 10-day injured list to begin the season if Atlanta feels he needs a bit of extra ramp-up time to make up for the lost spring work, which could open the door for Forrest Wall, J.P. Martinez, Eli White, or non-roster invites Jordan Luplow or Luis Liberato for some early-season playing time. The Braves’ lineup is so stacked that missing even a superstar of Acuna’s caliber wouldn’t be a big problem in the short term, but obviously the team needs Acuna fully ready as it pursues its second World Series title in four years.