Braves' Ronald Acuna Jr. on Knee Injury Rehab: 'I'm About to Start Giving 1,000%'

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVJuly 11, 2021

Atlanta Braves right fielder Ronald Acuna Jr., sits injured on the field 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)
AP Photo/Lynne Sladky

Atlanta Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. has already turned his attention toward his rehab after suffering a season-ending torn ACL in his right knee during Saturday's 5-4 win over the Miami Marlins.

"The only thing I can say is that I'm obviously going to put maximum effort to come back stronger than ever," Acuna told reporters Sunday. "If I was giving 500 percent before, I'm about to start giving 1,000 percent."

In 2019, Acuna signed an eight-year, $100 million contract extension with Atlanta through 2026 with club options for 2027 and 2028.

Acuna suffered the injury in the bottom of the fifth inning while chasing a fly ball from Jazz Chisholm Jr. that turned into an inside-the-park home run.

ESPN's Jeff Passan reported the 23-year-old star is expected to miss nine to 10 months, which means he may still be sidelined at the start of the 2022 season.

Replacing his production will be a daunting task for the Braves. He was slashing .283/.394/.596 with 24 home runs, 52 RBI and 17 stolen bases in 82 games prior to the injury. He was named a starting outfielder for the National League in the 2021 All-Star Game and said he plans on attending the festivities in Colorado even though he can't play.

"(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."

Atlanta—44-45 and four games behind the New York Mets in the NL East—will likely turn toward veteran Ender Inciarte, known mainly for his glove, for far more playing time with Acuna sidelined.

Without Acuna and with the division already competitive with the 47-40 Mets, 44-44 Philadelphia Phillies and 42-47 Washington Nationals, it is difficult to envision the Braves winning the division for a fourth straight season.