Atlanta Braves star Ronald Acuna Jr. has worked hard to reach the stratosphere of Major League Baseball. A day after suffering a season-ending torn ACL in his right knee, Acuna vowed to work harder than ever to stay there.
“The only thing I can say is that I’m obviously going to put maximum effort to come back stronger than ever,” Acuna said via Braves interpreter Franco Garcia during a Zoom call on Sunday. “If was giving 500 percent before, I’m about to start giving 1,000 percent.”
Acuna suffered the injury during Atlanta’s 5-4 triumph over the Marlins on Saturday when he landed awkwardly on the warning track while chasing a fly ball struck by Miami’s Jazz Chisholm Jr. Acuna grabbed at his knee in agony while Chisholm circled the bases for an inside-the-park home run.
The match was delayed for more than 10 minutes after Acuna initially tried to walk off the field but was unable to do so under his own power. As he was carried away on a cart, cameras caught an emotional Acuna tearing up after what turned out to be a season-ending injury, though he says he did not initially know that was the case.
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“I knew something was wrong,” Acuna said. “I guess I didn’t understand the severity of it, until the doctor told me about it later on. Nothing I can do about it now. I can’t control things I can’t control.”
Late Saturday, the Braves revealed via social media that Acuna had indeed suffered a complete tear of his ACL and would undergo surgery.
ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported that Acuna is expected to miss nine to 10 months, which would put him in jeopardy of missing the start of the 2022 season.
However long it takes, Acuna vows to come back as good as he was when he went down.
“I think I’m a patient person and I think that’s going to work in my favor,” Acuna said. “Continue to work hard, trust the process of the rehab. Just continue to work hard. You get out what you put in.”
Acuna did not discuss a timetable regarding his eventual return, saying that his surgery has not yet been programmed. For now, he is preparing to go, as planned, to Colorado for the All-Star Game, where he would have started in the outfield for the National League.
“(Being selected) means a lot to me,” Acuna said. “In that same sense, those fans who went out and voted for me, they deserve it as much as I did. I wouldn’t be here without them.” Before his injury, Acuna was putting up another stellar campaign that had him positioned for a run at his first MVP award.
He leads the Braves in batting average (.283), homers (24) and stolen bases this season (17), and leads all big leaguers with 72 runs scored.
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