Braves Season Over Without Acuna? – BY BUCK BELUE

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Atlanta Braves right fielder Ronald Acuna Jr., center, is helped onto a medical cart after trying to make a catch on an inside-the-park home run hit by Miami Marlins’ Jazz Chisholm Jr. during the fifth inning of a baseball game, Saturday, July 10, 2021, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

June 12, 2021
680 THE FAN, ATLANTA –
It seems like a crushing blow. Acuna goes down with a torn right ACL. Out in Braves Country, all our hopes for a strong 2nd half run at a fourth consecutive National League East title has suddenly evaporated.

Soroka, d’Arnaud, Ozuna, Ynoa and now Acuna. It feels like five consecutive hard body blows, on the way down to the floor.

The Braves opening day outfield line-up is all gone at the All-Star break. Pache couldn’t hit, got dinged up and is now banished to AAA-Gwinnett. Ozuna did the unthinkable and will probably never wear a Braves uniform again. Now Acuna.

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Atlanta Braves right fielder Ronald Acuna Jr., center, is carried to a medical cart after trying to make a catch on an inside-the-park home run hit by Miami Marlins’ Jazz Chisholm Jr. during the fifth inning of a baseball game, Saturday, July 10, 2021, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Right now, the thought of who replaces Ronald in the line-up is in the “don’t really care” category. But if you need to know, it’s Adrianza, Drew Waters or someone coming our way in a trade (one of the low-cost, no name options).

And speaking of trades, the Braves woke up this morning suddenly in the “Sellers” category, as it relates to the upcoming MLB trade deadline.

Alex Anthopoulus focus overnight has most likely shifted to sell off mode. At the top of the Braves trade list, I would imagine reads like this: Charlie Morton, Drew Smyly or maybe even Freddie Freeman (who’s contract runs out at the end of the season).

As far as Ronald Acuna, Jr. goes. He now faces surgery and rehab. The torn ACL return time is 8-12 months. If all goes well, he should be back in the Braves line-up sometime around next June. Or maybe after the ’22 All-Star break.

The hope here is that Ronald comes back stronger and maintains his trade-mark explosiveness post-surgery. It’s going to be a long ride back. So, his determination is going to get tested along the way.

Setbacks like this can humble you. The experience can also make you tougher. Maybe Acuna needed a dose of both. Perhaps this difficult challenge ends up making him better.

I’m going to miss watching him play the game the rest of this season. Acuna had become must-see TV, especially against the Marlins. Even on losing nights, we could look forward to something special from Ronald. We won’t have that the rest of the way.

This has been a difficult season to enjoy. So many injuries and struggles. It’s been a tough watch. Don’t expect it to get any easier in the seasons second half.

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