Acuna pinch-hits after being out of lineup for third game since ankle injury

After being out of the Braves’ starting lineup for a third consecutive game with an ankle injury, Ronald Acuna struck out as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning Sunday in Milwaukee.

Manager Brian Snitker sent Acuna to the plate to hit for reliever Sean Newcomb with runners on second and third bases and the Braves trailing the Brewers 10-8. Facing reliever Devin Williams, Acuna struck out swinging on a 2-2 changeup.

The Braves have considered Acuna’s status day-to-day since he injured his left ankle sprinting across first base during a game against Toronto at Truist Park on Thursday. X-rays were negative, but the ankle has remained sore.

“It was good enough to pinch-hit. It wasn’t good enough to play,” Snitker said after Sunday’s game. “I think he should be good (Monday). We’ll see when he gets there.”

Snitker said he would have used a pinch-runner for Acuna if he had reached base in Sunday’s at-bat.

Utility player Ehire Adrianza filled in for Acuna as the starting right fielder and leadoff hitter in the Braves’ series finale at Milwaukee, his third consecutive game in those roles. Adrianza was 1-for-14 in the three-game series, including 0-for-5 Sunday.

After Cristian Pache went on the 10-day injured list with right hamstring inflammation Friday, Ender Inciarte started in center field Sunday for the second time in three games. Guillermo Heredia started in center on Saturday and Inciarte on Friday, both having returned from hamstring injuries. Snitker said the plan is for Heredia and Inciarte to share playing time in hopes of keeping both of them healthy.

Braves notes:

-Freddie Freeman’s 251st career home run Sunday was his 11th this season, putting him one behind Acuna’s 12 for the National League lead. Freeman hit career homer No. 250 on Saturday night and followed with a grand slam Sunday. His batting average remains uncharacteristically low at .222.

“I feel like I’ve hit the ball hard all year, and that’s the crazy thing,” Freeman said. “I’ve been grinding, I really have. But at least (some of) the hits I have gotten have gone over the fence, so there’s some damage. But I like to be more consistent than a home run every once in a while.

“That’s all I care about in this game: Be consistent so that you can count on me every single day. Obviously, I haven’t been able to do that the first six weeks, so hopefully I can get that going in the next four months.”

Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman hits a grand slam during the seventh inning against the Milwaukee Brewers Sunday, May 16, 2021, in Milwaukee. Atlanta lost 10-9. (Morry Gash/AP)

Credit: Morry Gash

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Credit: Morry Gash

-The Braves’ starting pitchers for a three-game series against the New York Mets at Truist Park: Max Fried (1-1, 6.55 ERA) on Monday, Charlie Morton (2-2, 5.08) on Tuesday and Drew Smyly (2-2, 5.23) on Wednesday. The Mets are scheduled to start right-hander Taijuan Walker (3-1, 2.20) on Monday and left-hander David Peterson (1-3, 4.86) on Wednesday, but haven’t announced a starter for Tuesday.

-Marcell Ozuna, who had a .224 slugging percentage through the Braves’ first 21 games, had a .500 slug percentage in the next 18 games. His strikeout rate was down from 29.2% in the first 21 games to 16% in the next 18.