Braves shut down Ronald Acuna for remainder of regular season

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Braves star outfielder Ronald Acuna celebrated his 22nd birthday on Dec. 18.

Ronald Acuna’s pursuit of 40-40 ended Wednesday when the Braves shut down their All-Star for the remainder of the regular season because of a left groin strain, Braves manager Brian Snitker announced before their game in Kansas City.

Acuna, 21, left Tuesday’s game in the third inning after limping in the outfield. The Braves planned to give him a few days of rest anyway, but Royals doctors who evaluated Acuna on Tuesday and Wednesday thought it would be best to play it safe.

“The doctors looked at him and felt it’s best if we just shut him down for the rest of the season until the playoffs,” Snitker said. “So it’s biting him a little bit. Just to be on the safe side. He can continue to hit, throw, keep everything going, but he won’t play any more games in the regular season.”

Acuna is expected to be ready for the National League Division Series, which begins Oct. 3. Snitker added Acuna could even “go with some risk” and play through a level of pain if needed, but it obviously isn’t required in the final four regular season games through this weekend.

The pain was a little more bothersome than Acuna had revealed Tuesday, according to Snitker. The Braves opted for a cautious approach, letting Acuna heal on the sidelines while the team completes its 162-game slate with one more contest in Kansas City and three in New York, beginning Friday.

“It could end up being something really bad if you’re not careful,” Snitker said. “So we were better off shutting him down for the remainder of the weekend and then he’ll be ready to go full bore Thursday (NLDS Game 1).”

Acuna, in his first full season, played a major role in the Braves repeating as NL East champions. The reigning rookie of the year once again thrived from the leadoff spot, where he was inserted in early May after opening the season batting cleanup.

The injury ends Acuna’s pursuit of the fifth 40-40 season in MLB history. Acuna finishes with 41 homers and 37 steals. He slashed .280/.365/.518 with 101 RBIs and 127 runs scored. He led the National League in steals and scored the second-most runs in MLB.

Acuna is commonly projected in the top 10 of NL MVP voting. He finished 12th in voting last season.

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