In what’s surely a welcome sight for Braves fans, superstar outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr., who watched his teammates win the 2021 World Series from the dugout as he rehabbed an ACL tear, has resumed on-field batting practice in his native Venezuela (video of the session can be seen here, via Spanish-language baseball news site El Extrabase). Acuña sustained the injury in Miami in July while attempting to track down a fly ball off the bat of Jazz Chisholm into LoanDepot Park’s right field corner.
While it remains to be seen whether (or for how long) the injury might sap Acuña’s speed or explosiveness, the news marks a clear milestone in his recovery. However welcome the news, though, it isn’t clear when Acuña will be available, how he’ll be used when he does return, or what effect it will have on GM Alex Anthopoulos’ plans for the remainder of the Braves’ offseason. Regardless of Acuña’s availability, the Braves face several question marks in the outfield; of the four outfielders Anthopoulos acquired around the 2021 trade deadline (Joc Pederson, Jorge Soler, Eddie Rosario, and Adam Duvall), only Duvall remains under control for 2022. It’s also unclear how the club plans to handle the return of Marcell Ozuna from administrative leave or whether it views any of its three high-end outfield prospects (Cristian Pache, Drew Waters, and Michael Harris) as ready for significant big-league action.