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The Return of Ronald Acuña Jr. – Braves Superstar from Venezuela

📸 Photo Credit: George Napolitano/ Latino Sports

Flushing, New York- This week, the New York Mets hosted the defending World Series champions, Atlanta Braves in a four game set at Citi Field. This hard-nosed NL East battle includes so many star-studded talents such as Pete Alonso, Francisco Lindor, Ozzie Albies, Matt Olson, and Dansby Swanson. Cannot forget about superstar Ronald Acuña Jr. I could go down the list all day, but you get the gist. This is the matchup you should keep your eyes glued to the television for each and every game this season. 

Results from Four game series between Braves vs. Mets

Monday 5/2 – Braves win 5-2 

Tuesday 5/3 – Doubleheader – Game 1: Mets win 5-4, Game 2: Mets win 3-0

Wednesday 5/4 – Braves win 9-2

Wondering when is the next time Mets and Braves face off? The next matchup is a 3-game series on Monday July 11th – Wednesday, July 13th in Atlanta.

Braves Superstar from La Guaira, Venezuela – The Return of Ronald Acuña Jr. 

Throughout their historic World Series title run last season, the Braves were without their cornerstone of the franchise: Ronald Acuña Jr. Last year, on July 10th against the Marlins, Acuña suffered a torn ACL in his right knee from a horrific collision with the outfield wall at LoanDepot Park. Before the injury, Acuña was on pace to be a lead candidate in the National League MVP run. In 82 games played, he totaled 24 home runs, 52 runs batted in, 84 hits with a .394 on base percentage. 

To add to his rise to stardom, Acuña became the sixth fastest player in MLB history to hit 100 career home runs. He accomplished the milestone within the first 378 games of his career. Only other players to achieve this feat quicker than Acuña are Ryan Howard (324 G), Gary Sánchez (355 G), Aaron Judge (371 G), Ralph Kiner (376 G), and Joey Gallo (377 G). 

Acuña began his rehab with Triple-A Gwinnett to start off the season. In the six games of his rehab assignment, Acuña had a .368 batting average (7-19) with three stolen bases. The Braves did not want to pressure or urge Acuña to return until he was fully comfortable mentally and physically. The Braves plan for now is not to play Acuña back-to-back games on the field. Atlanta would prefer Acuña to slowly ease himself back into everyday playing form. 

During the offseason, MLB implemented the universal designated hitter, giving National League teams flexibility within their lineup construction. This is a huge boost for the Braves in this certain situation. Before this year, Acuna would be required to play a position to be in the lineup or be a pinch hitter-type concept throughout games. Now, with this new rule change, Acuña can do either/or in regards to playing the field, being a designated hitter on a nightly basis. 

Last Thursday on April 28th, Acuña made his return to the majors as the Braves faced off against the Chicago Cubs. At Truist Park, Braves fans praised Acuña with a standing ovation before his first at-bat of the day. The mental toll he faced during the ups and downs of rehab must have been nauseating. The home crowd let him know they appreciate his comeback and style of playing the game. Acuña contains that nonchalant swagger that baseball fans gravitate towards. I for one, am happy he is back and fully healthy.

In six games played so far, Acuña has 5 hits and two walks in 25 plate appearances. Trust me, his bat will get going sooner rather than later. Acuña has the potential to rank up there with superstar names such as Juan Soto, and Fernando Tatís Jr. The Milwaukee Brewers come into Atlanta this weekend for a 3-game series to get revenge on the Braves. Last year, the Braves ended Milwaukees postseason run early by eliminating the Brewers in the NLDS (3-1). Although Acuña missed the highly competitive NLDS due to injury, he looks to do damage against Milwaukee.

Robert Rizzo writes for Latino Sports and NY Sports Day, 

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