Ronald Acuña’s MRI does not reveal any serious concerns

Braves right fielder Ronald Acuna watches the game from the dugout as he sat out of the lineup against the Boston Red Sox at Truist Park on Wednesday, May 11, 2022, in Atlanta. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

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Braves right fielder Ronald Acuna watches the game from the dugout as he sat out of the lineup against the Boston Red Sox at Truist Park on Wednesday, May 11, 2022, in Atlanta. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

The Braves received good news on Ronald Acuña, who has not played since Tuesday: His MRI, done on Saturday, didn’t reveal anything serious.

“There’s nothing that the MRI showed that would lead us to think that he’s got to be shut down,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “We’ll treat him up and see how he is.”

Acuña is day-to-day with groin soreness. Snitker said the Braves don’t have to put him on the injured list just yet because the designated hitter allows them to have a shorter bench.

Acuña on Friday said he expected to play in Saturday’s game versus the Padres. But he sat out the game.

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The outfielder missed Wednesday’s and Friday’s games. The Braves hoped Thursday’s off-day would help, but Acuña has not yet returned.

Snitker said this right groin injury doesn’t have anything to do with Acuña’s knee, which is important because the superstar tore his ACL in that knee last summer.

“I haven’t had any reports of the knee,” Snitker said. “It’s just from all the running and all that, sliding and stuff like that, with the groin. They just want to make sure.”

Over 10 games since he came off the injured list after finishing his rehab for a torn ACL, Acuña is batting .282 with an .878 on-base plus slugging percentage. He has hit two home runs, has driven in five runs and has stolen five bases.

In Acuña’s absence, Travis Demeritte was in Saturday’s lineup as the leadoff man and right fielder. Demeritte did the same thing Friday, while shortstop Dansby Swanson led off Wednesday.

The Braves, of course, need Acuña now. But they can’t jeopardize the future. He’s their franchise player, and there is good reason to be extra careful with him.

Acuña impacts the Braves in tons of ways. Opposing pitching staffs must deal with him four or five times most days. And when he’s on base, he’s in pitchers’ heads as a consistent threat to swipe a bag. As an incredible athlete, he improves the club’s outfield defense.

Without Acuña, the Braves rely heavily on Demeritte and Guillermo Heredia to go with center fielder Adam Duvall and left fielder Marcell Ozuna. Orlando Arcia, a backup infielder, also can play left field.

Making the most of his opportunity

Demeritte on Friday went 3-for-3 with two walks, which continued this successful stint in the big leagues. He added two more hits on Saturday.

He made it to the majors toward the end of April and has made the most of this opportunity ever since.

Over 51 at-bats, he had hit .314 with a .909 OPS before Saturday. He had hit three homers while driving in five runs and scoring nine.

He has collected a hit in 13 of 17 games played thus far, and has four multi-hit games.

Demeritte has seemingly improved in the few weeks he’s been with the big club.

“His at-bats are even better than they were then,” Snitker said. “That comes with success and confidence. It does a world for you.”

Lineup changes

Duvall, who had played in 32 of the club’s 33 games heading into Saturday, was out of the lineup. Heredia was in center field and batting ninth.

Snitker said he wanted to give Duvall a day off on Saturday or Sunday. He chose Sunday to play Duvall because the right-handed hitter is 3-for-7 with a homer versus Padres right-hander Joe Musgrove, who will start Sunday’s series finale.

Duvall is batting .200 with a .564 OPS.

Before Saturday, third baseman Austin Riley had hit third in 31 of 32 games played this season. And the other time, he batted fourth.

Riley was in the sixth spot in Saturday’s lineup. Ozzie Albies was in the No. 3 hole, while Ozuna was the cleanup hitter and Travis d’Arnaud was in the fifth spot.