In the midst of a slump, the Braves gave Ronald Acuna a day off.
The 21-year-old phenom, who’s already notched a National League Player of the Week this season, was off Wednesday against the Padres. Utilityman Charlie Culberson made his first start of the season in left.
Acuna has hit .220 (11-for-50) with two doubles in 13 games since he hit a home run April 16. Just before that stretch, he hit .545 with four homers in a six-game stretch.
The Braves planned to give Acuna a day off Tuesday, but Ender inciarte’s hamstring tweak disrupted that plan.
“We forget he’s a 21-year-old first-year big-leaguer,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said of Acuna. “He’s one of the best players in baseball, but I used to watch (Dale Murphy), when he was winning MVPs, he’d go in streaks sometimes where he’s just a normal baseball player.
“We always want these guys to be perfect. This thing is an up-and-down grind. I’ve been wanting to get him a day, and he’s got to be feeling pretty good going into this day because he squared up two balls really well yesterday.”
Meanwhile, Culberson finally gets in the lineup. Four of his five hits have gone for extra bases, but even so, his playing time remains scarce. He’s spent just 2-1/3 innings in the field, manning first and third.
“I was looking at that, and at some point in time I have to get the guy out there,” Snitker said. “He’s just too valuable a player. … He’s very professional. Understands his role. He’s prepared and stays ready. He gets it.”