Braves’ Ronald Acuña has Grade 1 right quad strain

Atlanta Braves Ronald Acuna Jr. hits a sacrifice fly in the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Tuesday, May 24, 2022, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Todd Kirkland)

Credit: AP

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Atlanta Braves Ronald Acuna Jr. hits a sacrifice fly in the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Tuesday, May 24, 2022, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Todd Kirkland)

Credit: AP

Around an hour and a half before the start of Wednesday’s game, the Braves scratched superstar Ronald Acuña from their lineup with right quad tightness.

He underwent an MRI, and it revealed a Grade 1 strain. He is day-to-day, manager Brian Snitker said. The manager said the outfielder will probably be out for a couple of days.

Acuña woke up with the right quad tightness. After he arrived at Truist Park for Wednesday’s game, he tested the quad by running out on the field. But he still felt it, and the Braves don’t want to take any chances, which is why they scratched him from the lineup.

“I think he felt just walking around the house and doing all that, if he came in and got treatment, that he’d be OK to DH, just not run around in the outfield,” Snitker said after his team’s win on Wednesday. “But then when he went out and tried to run, (he felt) he wasn’t going to be able to do it.”

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Acuña had just returned from the right groin tightness that forced him to miss five games. He has played in only 17 games in a season that began late for him because he had to finish his rehab after tearing the ACL in his right knee in July. He didn’t have a normal spring training.

Could these minor ailments be a result of not having played regularly since last season?

“It’s probably all related,” Snitker said. “Guys can have problems when they go through a normal spring training. His wasn’t. So it’s probably related to volume and the whole thing.

“We’re going to have to manage it. That’s why I think, too, is it’s so good that we have this DH this year for this situation, especially.”

Acuña has probably been the Braves’ most impactful offensive player, even in a small sample size.

Over 65 at-bats, he is batting .292 with an .846 OPS. He has hit two home runs and has driven in eight runs, three of which came in a comeback victory over Philadelphia on Tuesday.

Acuña has also changed games with his legs. He has stolen eight bases, a figure he needed only 14 games to reach. And he also hasn’t yet been caught stealing.

This marked the first time in his career that he had gone 8-for-8 in stolen bases in the span of 14 games in a single season.

Since 2000, the only other Braves to accomplish this are Rafael Furcal (eight times), Ender Inciarte (three), Mallex Smith (three) and Michael Bourn (one).

Acuña’s defense has also given the Braves a boost. Their outfield defense has been shaky at times, but he stabilizes them a bit out there.

Recently, Snitker discussed the balance in managing Acuña. The Braves want him healthy, but they know he plays hard and they want him to be himself.

“He does only know one way (to play) right now,” Snitker said on May 16 in Milwaukee. “I would be more afraid of him trying to be careful. Probably would have a better chance of getting hurt being careful than just playing the game he does. Because there’s some of that, it’s unconscious acts of baseball. When you hit a ball, come out of that box and everything, your instincts take over and you go.

“The kid, he’s a physical player, and he plays hard. When you’re that elite of a player, you’re going to be on the bases and you’re going to be doing things all the time.”

In Acuña’s absence, the Braves put Travis Demeritte in right field Wednesday, batting ninth. Ozzie Albies took the leadoff spot.