Ronald Acuña Jr. update: Braves say star will be ready for Opening Day

Atlanta Braves right fielder Ronald Acuna Jr. talks with teammates and coaching staff before taking batting practice during spring training workouts at CoolToday Park, Feb. 16, 2024, in North Port, Florida. (Hyosub Shin /



Atlanta Braves right fielder Ronald Acuna Jr. talks with teammates and coaching staff before taking batting practice during spring training workouts at CoolToday Park, Feb. 16, 2024, in North Port, Florida. (Hyosub Shin /

NORTH PORT, Fla. – The Braves on Monday received great news: Ronald Acuña Jr. didn’t suffer a worse injury than initially thought.

Acuña on Monday saw Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles, who confirmed the original diagnosis of irritation in the right meniscus, the Braves said. Acuña is expected to be ready for Opening Day.

“I feel great,” Acuña said, in English, on Tuesday at CoolToday Park. “I feel like nothing happened.”

The Braves said Acuña will gradually increase baseball activities. The Braves didn’t provide any timeline for how long Acuña might be shut down before resuming baseball activities or for when he’s expected to play in spring games again.

We only know this: The Braves’ medical staff feels he’ll be ready for the club’s March 28 opener in Philadelphia. This is great news for the Braves, who had to deal with the small possibility that this could be something worse.

“I don’t know when I’ll play (in a spring training game) again,” Acuña said. “I feel like I can play today, I can play every day. But I’ve got bosses. When they tell me, ‘You can play,’ I’ll play.”

Added manager Brian Snitker on this: “Whenever (head athletic trainer) George (Poulis) comes and tells me he can play, I’ll put him in there.”

On Tuesday, Acuña hit in the batting cage. He also threw with replay coordinator Braeden Schlehuber. So, he’s continuing to work out and go through his routine, which is an encouraging sign.

Acuña flew out to Los Angeles for further evaluation from ElAttrache, the doctor who performed surgery on his torn right ACL in 2021. Acuña’s MRI, done Friday, showed irritation in his right meniscus, but the Braves wanted to have ElAttrache confirm everything, just to be safe.

In a Feb. 29 spring training game, Acuña hurt his knee in a rundown between second base and third base in the third inning. But he remained in the game through the end of the fifth, which was a good sign.

The other encouraging part of this: Acuña doesn’t expect to manage knee soreness throughout the season. This was an isolated incident, and the meniscus irritation came from the rundown.

“No, I don’t think it’s going to be a thing,” he said through interpreter Franco García. “I just think it was more like a mental error on my part because I didn’t need to get myself in that situation. Really, I was just sort of testing out the legs and seeing how they felt more than anything. But I’m not worried about it.”

The Braves still have over three weeks before Opening Day. There’s a lot of time for Acuña to build up and be ready, especially because position players don’t need a lengthy ramp-up like starting pitchers.

The Braves were able to exhale on Monday.

“I think you’re always worried,” Snitker said. “You never know what might happen when they do their further evaluations and everything.”

When he provided an update on Saturday, Braves president of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos sounded encouraged and relatively confident that Acuña would be ready for Opening Day, barring new information. Fortunately for Acuña and the Braves, Monday didn’t bring any unpleasant surprises.

On Friday, Acuña told the Braves he could play, but they scratched him from the lineup as a precaution. When he walked into the clubhouse on Saturday morning, he did so without a limp. He looked fine again on Tuesday.

In 2023, Acuña put together MLB’s first 40-70 season on the way to winning the National League Most Valuable Player Award. His 73 stolen bases would take a toll on any body, but the Braves don’t plan to put any restrictions on him.

“No. He’s still young. He’s still at an age where he can continue to do that,” Snitker said. “He’s gonna reach a point sometime where he’s gonna slow down on his own and understand that. I think you gotta turn a kid like that loose and let him play his game.”

In 2024, the Braves are stacked again, but they are, of course, better when Acuña is in the lineup. He’s one of baseball’s most dynamic players.

Over and over again in interviews, Acuña has said that health is paramount for him. If he stays healthy, he can do anything.

Braves fans can breathe easy for now. It seems Acuña will be fine.

This is a relief to everyone – including Acuña.

“For me, that’s important because I want to play every day, I want to play on Opening Day (at) 100 percent,” Acuña said. “I feel great.”