Ronald Acuna discusses rehab, expectations and Braves’ postseason run

Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna - who has been sidelined with a knee injury since July - watches the team take part in batting practice before Game 2 of the NLCS Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021, against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Truist Park in Atlanta. (Ashley Landis/AP)
Caption
Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna - who has been sidelined with a knee injury since July - watches the team take part in batting practice before Game 2 of the NLCS Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021, against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Truist Park in Atlanta. (Ashley Landis/AP)

Credit: Ashley Landis

Credit: Ashley Landis

The Braves have made their latest postseason run without All-Star outfielder Ronald Acuna, who tore his ACL in July. Acuna’s injury prompted the Braves to remake their outfield ahead of the trade deadline, a series of transactions that have helped put the team within striking distance of a World Series berth.

Acuna, who hasn’t done a media interview since suffering his injury, spoke with reporters in the Braves’ dugout before his team faced the Dodgers in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series.

Acuna’s thoughts on his rehab and how his team has fared without him (via team interpreter Franco Garcia):

Q: What’s this like to see the team get to this point?

“Good. I feel really good. I’m really happy to be here with my team. I’m glad they’ve made it to this point. This is what it’s all about. This is what you work for the entire season, what we started working to in spring training and the entire regular season, so I’m really happy for that.”

Q: How hard is it to not be out there and does it motivate him even more to get back at 100% next year?

“Yeah, I’d probably have to say it’s one of the hardest moments of my career, to be honest. Just to be here at the stadium and not be able to join my teammates out there in the field and play with them. But there’s nothing you can do about that. So for me, it’s just about being here and continuing to give them the support as if I were playing. And continue to give 200% and just keep supporting everyone the best way that I can.”

Q: What can he say about the job the new outfielders (acquired in July) have done to help the team reach this point?

“They’ve had a great season since they got here and they have done a great job since coming over. I think we’ve come to expect that, so it’s going to be one of those things where, we’re kind of expecting it from them.”

Q: Where is he with his recovery, percentage-wise, and is he on schedule?

“I feel good. In the same sense, I feel about as good as I did two months ago. It’s kind of just been a gradual process, but if I had to put a percentage on it, I would say maybe 70%. So yeah, there’s 30% to go. But again, that’s just my personal opinion on how I’m feeling. But as far as the return and everything like that, and where I’m actually at, I’ll leave those decisions up to the trainers and the doctors and the team. So we’ll see what we’ll see what they determine.”

Q: Do you expect to be moving around, maybe doing some baseball activities, running or jogging by January or February? Is there a timetable for that?

“I think the plan is to start jogging maybe around November and December. And you know, sort of just light activities like that, and then maybe around January or February start doing baseball activities. But that’s all (for) the trainers (to decide).”

Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna (13) waits be introduced before Game 1 of the NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021, at Truist Park in Atlanta. Acuna has been recovering from a knee injury suffered in July. (Ashley Landis/AP)
Caption
Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna (13) waits be introduced before Game 1 of the NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021, at Truist Park in Atlanta. Acuna has been recovering from a knee injury suffered in July. (Ashley Landis/AP)

Credit: Ashley Landis

Credit: Ashley Landis

Q: What was it like being announced with the team before Game 1?

“I’m always proud to wear this Braves uniform and put it on. It was awesome to be announced and everything. And it was tough to be announced and not take the field like the rest of the guys, but in that same breath, I’m glad that I could be here to show them support.”

Q: Have you been at the stadium every day and where do you watch the games from?

“Yeah, working out here every day, part of the rehab. For the games, I usually stay for a couple innings or so and then I go back home to recover a little bit and I’ll watch the game from there.”

Q: If we said you were going to come back in May (2022), would you be mad we’re selling you short? Do you want to be back in April or is May a good timetable?

“I don’t have a date in mind. It’s a knee. The knee is a big focal point as far as the structure and stability for any athlete. I’m going to take my time with it, that’s for sure. But I know that once I’ll be ready and once I feel like I’m ready to go, obviously I’ll express that. As far as the timetable is concerned, if the trainers say May, then May. If the trainers say April, then April. So really, whatever the trainers and doctors and team medical staff say.”

Q: Did you go through a hard time emotionally after the injury or were you able to bounce back and say, ‘I’m ready to attack the rehab and do whatever is necessary?

“I don’t think I really ever lost sight of it. I don’t think my mind ever kind of wandered to that place of negativity or anything like that. Always positive, always strong. And after it happened, I immediately looked at our training staff and medical staff and all the doctors and staff and everything, and I said, ‘Let’s get straight to work on recovery and everything. If there’s one positive takeaway from it, or a blessing in disguise, I would say it’s kind of given me the opportunity to focus on working on parts of my body that I wouldn’t necessarily focus on before. So if there’s kind of a silver lining, that’s it. It’s just the fact that I’ve been able to focus, put time and effort and energy into working out certain parts of my body that haven’t really done before.”

Q: Did you get any advice from other athletes who have had a similar injury?

“Some guys reached out and offered me advice and all that. Everyone kind of gives me advice. But everybody is different. Everybody’s body recuperates and heals at a different rate. So as good as all that advice is, you just have to listen to your own body.”

Atlanta United striker Josef Martinez (left) smiles as he talks with Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna before Game 2 of the NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021, at Truist Park in Atlanta. Both Martinez and Acuna - who is recovering from a knee injury suffered in the regular season - hail from Venezuela. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)
Caption
Atlanta United striker Josef Martinez (left) smiles as he talks with Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna before Game 2 of the NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021, at Truist Park in Atlanta. Both Martinez and Acuna - who is recovering from a knee injury suffered in the regular season - hail from Venezuela. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com

Credit: Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com

Q: Will you work out in Atlanta this winter or go home to Venezuela at all?

“I’m just going to focus on working out here first, and then we’ll think about Venezuela.”

Q: What have you learned from watching this team at a different angle recently?

“Never give up. Never give up and never stop playing until the game is over. That’s the reason why we’re here right now. So these guys keep fighting and never give up. That’s the reason we’re here.”

About the Author

ajc.com

Editors' Picks