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    Friday, June 14, 2024

    Braves' Ronald Acuña is placed on IL after second season-ending knee injury in 4 years

    Atlanta Braves' Ronald Acuña Jr., right, walks off the field with a trainer after being injured while running the bases during the first inning of a baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Pittsburgh, Sunday, May 26, 2024. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

    Atlanta — The Atlanta Braves placed outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. on the 10-day injured list on Monday after the reigning NL MVP sustained a season-ending torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.

    Acuña was hurt in the Braves' 8-1 win at Pittsburgh on Sunday. After opening the game with a double, Acuña started toward third on a stolen base attempt. His left knee gave way when he stopped in an attempt to return to second base.

    Atlanta announced Sunday night an MRI showed a complete ACL tear that will require surgery.

    Acuña tore his right ACL on July 20, 2021. He returned on April 28, 2022, after missing Atlanta's first 19 games of the season.

    Atlanta has lost two top players to season-ending injuries in the first two months of the season. All-Star right-hander Spencer Strider's season ended on April 13 when he had internal brace surgery to repair the ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow.

    Acuña's injury came just as the Braves were looking forward to having two starters return to their lineup.

    Third baseman Austin Riley and catcher Sean Murphy started in Monday's game against Washington. Riley missed two weeks with tightness in his left side and Murphy had been out with a strained left oblique since March 30.

    “There are few players in this league that are on a level he is,” Riley said. “It's a joy to watch him every night and to have that happen, you feel for him.”

    Riley said he and other key players “are going to have to step up and pull our full weight. He'll be missed for sure.”

    The Braves have won six straight NL East titles and won the 2021 World Series as Acuña was rehabbing from his first season-ending injury. The Braves entered Monday's games in second place in the division, six games behind Philadelphia.

    “We have more than 100 games left and we're 10 games over .500,” Murphy said. “We're still in a great spot. I don't think there's any reason to be worried about the Atlanta Braves.”

    Even so, Murphy added “I don't think there's anyone else in the big leagues who could just step in and do what Ronald does.”

    Manager Brian Snitker chose second baseman Ozzie Albies as the team's new leadoff hitter. Jared Kelenic and Adam Duvall, who have been sharing time in left field, each started against the Nationals. Duvall replaced Acuña in right field and Kelenic started in left field.

    “You hate it,” said Snitker of Acuña's injury. “It's part of it. You try to look at it that now we're going to give somebody a chance to do something special in his absence. ... Jared is going to get some regular at-bats. I think he's ready to take that next step.”

    Snitker said “I feel worse for the kid than for us that he has to go through this again.”

    Acuña was voted the NL MVP last season after hitting .337 with 41 homers, 106 RBIs and 73 stolen bases, becoming the first player to have at least 40 homers and 70 steals in a season. The 26-year-old from Venezuela was hitting .250 with four homers, 15 RBIs and 16 steals this season.

    The Braves recalled outfielder J.P. Martinez from Triple-A Gwinnett and infielder Joey Wendle was designated for assignment. Martinez will be the fourth outfielder.

    Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Martín Pérez (54) checks on Atlanta Braves' Ronald Acuña Jr., who injured himself running the bases during the first inning of a baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Pittsburgh, Sunday, May 26, 2024. Acuña Jr. left the game. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

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