As it turns out, Braves star Ronald Acuña will play for Team Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic, which is huge news for baseball fans around the world.
The Braves and the outfielder finalized the decision Wednesday, a person familiar with the matter told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Acuña will be part of Team Venezuela when WBC rosters are released Thursday evening.
Barring any unforeseen injury or health issues, Acuña will make his WBC debut.
Initially, the Braves’ medical staff felt it might be safer for Acuña to sit out the WBC and remain in spring training with the Braves. The team saw an importance in being able to monitor Acuña for the entirety of spring.
For a few reasons, the Braves now are much more comfortable with their star playing in the WBC.
Acuña will report to camp next week, which gives the Braves a few weeks to monitor him before he joins Team Venezuela in early March. This will allow the Braves to begin to gradually build him up in a safe way, the same as they had planned.
Furthermore, Acuña hasn’t had any lingering right knee issues after it bothered him at points last season. (Acuña tore his ACL in that knee during the 2021 season). Plus, the Braves didn’t plan to place any restrictions on Acuña during spring training or the regular season, so they’re comfortable with him playing in the WBC.
There’s also a trust factor here. Acuña must alert the Braves if he feels any soreness or experiences any pain. He’s still one of the Braves’ more important players, and they can change their mind about him playing in the WBC if any issues arise.
The Braves also will have open lines of communication with Venezuela manager Omar López and his staff, who will monitor Acuña during the WBC. They assured they would take care of Acuña and be cognizant of his health throughout the tournament.
In 2022, Acuña experienced knee soreness. The Braves managed his workload down the stretch. After the season, he badly wanted to play in the Venezuelan Winter League, and the Braves granted him permission to be the designated hitter for a select number of games.
At this point, the Braves’ medical staff is comfortable with Acuña playing in the WBC. The Braves will lay eyes on Acuña in camp and begin to safely ramp him up as they would in any other year. Acuña has trained in Venezuela this offseason.
Wednesday’s news is big for the world’s baseball fans, who hoped Acuña – one of the sport’s stars – would play in the global event.
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Credit: John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com
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