Ronald Acuna Jr. Activated by Braves After Missing 292 Days with Knee Injury

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVApril 28, 2022

Atlanta Braves Ronald Acuna Jr. waits for batting practice before Game 2 of baseball's National League Championship Series Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
AP Photo/Ashley Landis

The Atlanta Braves announced they've activated superstar outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. from the injured list ahead of Thursday's game against the Chicago Cubs.

Atlanta Braves @Braves

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Acuna suffered a torn ACL in a July 10 game against the Miami Marlins. He missed the remainder of the 2021 season, which concluded with the Braves winning their first World Series title since 1995, and the club's first 19 games of the 2022 campaign.

Grant McAuley @grantmcauley

For the first time in 292 days, Ronald Acuña Jr. will play a major league baseball game.<br><br>9 months, 18 days<br>41 weeks, 5 days<br>7,008 hours<br>420,480 minutes<br>25,228,800 seconds<br><br>The wait is over, <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Braves?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Braves</a> fans. <a href="https://t.co/QW0pRJGrN9">pic.twitter.com/QW0pRJGrN9</a>

Atlanta designated fellow outfielder Alex Dickerson for assignment to make room on the active roster.

Perhaps the best way to showcase Acuna's value to the Braves is looking at how hard general manager Alex Anthopoulos worked to replace him after the injury.

Anthopoulos quickly acquired Joc Pederson as an initial replacement and then proceeded to add eventual World Series MVP Jorge Soler, Adam Duvall and Eddie Rosario in other deals ahead of the trade deadline. Four outfielders to help replace the production of one.

Acuna was among MLB's best players before the injury. He compiled a .990 OPS with 24 home runs and 17 stolen bases in 82 appearances last season.

The Braves had pinpointed May 6 as his potential return date, but he's back more than a week earlier for a variety of reasons.

Most importantly, his rehab assignment in the minor leagues involved no setbacks and showed he was ready to help the big club. He posted a .941 OPS with three steals in six games.

Atlanta is also struggling out of the gate with an 8-11 record. Facing a potential World Series hangover, it's looked like a team desperate for a spark, and there are few players in the game more capable of providing one than the dynamic 24-year-old Venezuela native.

In addition, the Braves lost Rosario to the IL this week because of an eye injury that required surgery, which will sideline him for 8-12 weeks.

Put it all together and it doesn't come as a surprise Atlanta decided to activate Acuna sooner than expected. The team doesn't want the gap between itself and the NL East-leading New York Mets (14-6), which is already 5.5 games, to grow in the early stages.

The outfielder should immediately return to his usual leadoff role, allowing Ozzie Albies to slide down in the order, where he'll get some more RBI opportunities.