Ronald Acuña Jr. Set to Begin Rehab Assignment

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ATLANTA, GA - JUNE 02: Ronald Acuna Jr. #13 of the Atlanta Braves against the Washington Nationals at SunTrust Park on June 2, 2018, in Atlanta, Georgia. The Nationals won 5-3. (Photo by Carl Fonticella/Beam Imagination/Atlanta Braves/Getty Images)

The Atlanta Braves dodged a bullet in late May after rookie OF Ronald Acuña Jr. suffered what appeared to be a devastating knee injury. Acuña injured his knee in an awkward manner after legging out an infield single in Boston. Replays showed his knee buckling dangerously and left many fans fearing the worst.

(Video from MLB.com)

Fortunately, Acuña avoided a significant injury and did not require surgery on his left knee. He has been out of action since May 27, but his return could be right around the corner. The Braves announced Thursday that the young OF is set to begin a rehab assignment on Friday with Triple-A Gwinnett.

Ronald Acuña Jr. Set to Begin Rehab Assignment

Atlanta without Acuña

Somehow, the Braves lineup has dealt with the absence of the young slugger remarkably well. Atlanta has gone 13-9 in the 22 games played since Acuña was forced to the sideline. Part of the reason for that success is the play of utilityman Charlie Culberson.

Culberson has appeared in 20 games since the injury to Acuña, and all he has done is slash .318/.357/.561 with four home runs, four doubles, 13 runs scored, and 12 RBI. Additionally, two of those home runs were game-winners against division opponents. Thanks to Culberson’s efforts, Freddie Freeman‘s usual brilliance, and a strong season from Nick Markakis, the Braves have been able to stretch their lead in the division to three games over the Washington Nationals heading into Friday’s action.

Acuña Brings a Boost to the Offense

Rest assured, the Braves still need Acuña healthy and playing well to be a serious contender down the stretch. Culberson has performed remarkably well in Acuña’s stead, but the offense as a whole could use a boost. Since May 27, Atlanta has scored three or fewer runs in a game eight times. The offense has also eclipsed four runs in a game just six times over that same period.

There is absolutely no need to panic as Atlanta is still performing well and has a dynamic pitching staff behind the Braves offense. However, there is no denying the team is better with Acuña on it. He was slashing .265/.326/.453 with five home runs and 19 runs scored at the time of the injury, but Acuña still possesses game-changing ability on offense and defense. As a rookie, he will continue to learn and round into form. Hopefully he will be doing so for a team vying for a playoff spot.

Outlook

Atlanta has not officially announced when Acuña will re-join the big league club. Still, fans will be excited to learn that he is at least seeing action. After fearing the possibility of a massive knee injury, surgery, and a lengthy recovery, there’s no denying the Braves dodged a bullet. Now it’s only a matter of time until Acuña is back in Atlanta.

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