Ronald Acuna Jr. will DH in winter league finale, likely to miss WBC
One member of the Atlanta Braves that is on a lot of folks minds is Ronald Acuna Jr. While we saw glimpses of the Ronnie that we are used to inspiring awe on a baseball field last year, his recovery from knee surgery was tougher than expected and that led to him to be hampered at times and hesitant at others. It was a bummer.
It does appear, however, that he has been hard at work this offseason getting more and more game reps and working to strengthen that knee to gain more confidence that everything is healed again. He has even been making intermittent appearances in the Venezuelan Winter League including winning its version of the Home Run Derby. While his participation has been limited this winter, he clearly wanted to play as much as the Braves would let him and it was confirmed that he did get permission to DH in his team’s championship game.
It is always fun to see Ronald Acuna Jr. on a baseball field doing his thing, so this should be a treat for VWL fans and really baseball fans at large.
However, one thing that Ronnie did NOT get permission to participate in is the World Baseball Classic. At Braves fest yesterday, Acuna Jr. did say that he asked the Braves if he could playing in the WBC for Team Venezuela and after talking with the front office and the medical staff, the Braves decided that wasn’t the best idea.
The Braves decision makes a lot of sense here. They have been willing to work with Ronnie to get him some playing time in his home country’s winter league, but the World Baseball Classic is a large time commitment and the team likely wants their coaches and medical staff to be able to monitor his workload this spring. It is likely that his recovery has come along significantly this offseason, but he is also a critically important player on this Braves team especially if they have aspirations of competing for another title and they want to keep him healthy.
Acuna’s frustration at not getting to play is also understandable as he gets to see other major leaguers get to suit up, but as of now, it doesn’t seem like its an issue that is going to fester. Hopefully the team letting him play in the winter league finale softens the blow of not letting him play in the WBC a bit.