Acuna to begin rehab assignment soon

As the denizens of Braves Country eagerly await the return of phenom Ronald Acuna, the energizing rookie outfielder went through a third consecutive day of rigorous injury-rehab workouts Wednesday at the team’s spring-training camp outside Orlando.

The big news: He’s much closer to returning, probably no more than a day or two from starting a minor-league rehab assignment that would be the last step before Acuna rejoins the National League East-leading Braves.

The team remains conservative in the recovery of the prized prospect and said there’s no strict timetable for his return, but it’s possible Acuna could be back in the lineup by the end of a six-game homestand that starts Friday.

He’s been on the disabled list for 3-1/2 weeks after sustaining a sprained knee ligament along with knee and back contusions in a tumble during a May 27 game at Boston.

“He’s progressing really well,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said after Wednesday’s 5-4 loss at Toronto, only the Braves’ second defeat in eight games. “I mean, we’re looking at possibly getting him out (on a rehab assignment) at the end of the week. But he’s doing good, it’s like he’s passing (tests), he’s checking all the boxes down there.

“It’s been good for him down there because they’re doing everything – running the bases, throwing to bases, getting live at-bats. It’s been really good.”

Acuna has worked daily with team physical therapists and had his Florida workouts supervised by John “T-Bone” Shelby, minor league outfield and base-running coordinator.

“T-Bone Shelby is down there in his back pocket, working him out good,” Snitker said. “And all the reports are really good.”