ATLANTA — Ronald Acuna Jr. is attacking his minor league rehabilitation assignment as if motivated to rush the Atlanta Braves’ May 6 target date for coming off the injured list.
Acuna, 24, working his way back from a torn right ACL, stole his second base of his rehab while having two hits and a walk on Friday with Triple-A Gwinnett, a performance that caught the attention of Braves manager Brian Snitker.
“Looking at some of the video, I think he might have been a little more active than you wanted to see,” Snitker said with a smile Saturday before Atlanta’s 9-7 loss to the Miami Marlins. “[But these are] good indicators that he’s right where he needs to be.”
On Saturday, the Braves star outfielder kept it going. He went 2-for-3 with a run scored, an RBI and three walks. All told, Acuna is 5-for-12 for the Stripers.
Atlanta, a bit inconsistent out of the gate this season as it transitions from some roster changes, could use Acuna these days. The World Series champions are just 7-9, including 4-5 at home, and will take a minus-13 run differential into their Sunday game vs. the Marlins.
On Saturday, pinch hitter Garrett Cooper’s bases-loaded, go-ahead single in the seventh drove in two runs as Miami outlasted Atlanta. Trailing 7-6, the Marlins rallied with three runs against Braves hard-throwing rookie Spencer Strider (0-1), who gave up two hits and two walks without recording an out. The Braves’ bullpen gave up six runs.
Earlier in the night, Miami’s Jorge Soler received his Braves World Series ring before lacing a run-scoring single in the sixth inning. Soler is one of many Braves from the title team not with the club now; Freddie Freeman, who is playing first base for the Los Angeles Dodgers, is another, but Acuna may be able to help the club restore some order soon enough.
Acuna is a two-time All-Star and was playing like an MVP contender last season before injuring his right knee in the outfield at Marlins Park on July 10. He was hitting .283 with 24 home runs and a .990 OPS in 82 games at the time of the injury, and was left a spectator for Atlanta’s World Series title run.
When Acuna was officially assigned to the minors, Snitker, looking ahead to his return to the majors, said the outfielder “will be a boost for this club,” and he has certainly been that for its affiliates so far.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.