Braves superstar Ronald Acuna Jr. left tonight’s game against the Cubs in the fourth inning “due to pain in his lower abdominal muscles,” the team announced.
Acuna drew a walk to begin the fourth inning, and then “appeared to tweak something” (as per MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian) while diving back to the bag on a pickoff attempt. After advancing to second base on a Freddie Freeman walk, Acuna was visited by the Braves trainer but remained in the game, and later had to dive across the plate to score on a Travis d’Arnaud fly ball. For the bottom of the fourth, Ehire Adrianza took Acuna’s spot in right field and Johan Camargo entered the game to take over for Adrianza at second base.
More will be known about Acuna’s status after he undergoes tests, but needless to say, both Atlanta fans and the entire baseball world at large are holding their breath that the injury is a minor one. After establishing himself as one of the sport’s best players in his first three MLB seasons, Acuna is already drawing NL MVP buzz after hitting an extraordinary .419/.486/.887 with seven home runs over his first 72 plate appearances.
Should Acuna have to miss any time, he’ll join fellow outfielders Cristian Pache and Ender Inciarte on the injured list. The shorthanded Braves still have Marcell Ozuna in left field, but might have to rely on some combination of Guillermo Heredia, Adrianza, Camargo, or Austin Riley to handle the other two outfield positions in the interim. Atlanta does have several experienced options at its alternate training site (including Phil Ervin, Abraham Almonte, and Terrance Gore), as well as top prospect Drew Waters.