Braves’ Ronald Acuna Jr. to have MRI on knee, expects to go on IL

PITTSBURGH — Ronald Acuna Jr. left the Atlanta Braves8-1 win against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first inning Sunday after his left knee buckled, and he expects to go on the 10-day injured list.

The reigning NL MVP led off the game with a double to right-center field off Martin Perez. With Marcell Ozuna at the plate, Acuña started toward third on a stolen base attempt and his left knee gave way. Acuña remained down for several minutes while being treated, pointing at his left leg before walking off under his own power. The Braves’ initial diagnosis was left knee soreness.

Wearing a brace in the clubhouse, Acuña said he expected to have an MRI on Sunday night. He said he thinks he’ll be out a similar number of games as from an injury as a rookie in 2018. He was sidelined between May 27 and June 29 that season with a sprained ACL, bruised left knee and bruised back when the knee buckled as he tried to beat out an infield hit at Boston.

“I got scared a lot because I felt the pain in the beginning,” Acuña said. “Hopefully, everything is going to go well this time.”

Acuña tore his right ACL on July 20, 2021, a season-ending injury. The 26-year-old outfielder said this injury felt less severe.

“[I] don’t feel that painful, any pop or anything. … Don’t think it’s that bad,” Acuña said.

Acuña said he was looking to take third when he anticipated a slow throw back to the mound from catcher Joey Bart. The toss came in harder than expected, leading to an abrupt pivot back to second with his knee twisting.

“I don’t know how bad it is until we get it looked at,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “It’s very concerning. When he went down like that, you think the worst.”

Acuña is batting .250 with four home runs and 15 RBIs in 49 games. The four-time All-Star hit a career-best .337 last season with 41 homers and 106 RBIs.

Atlanta already is missing All-Star right-hander Spencer Strider, whose season ended April 13 when he had internal brace surgery to repair the ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow. Third baseman Austin Riley is day-to-day with a left intercostal strain and catcher Sean Murphy remains on the 10-day injured list with an oblique injury sustained Opening Day.

“It’s just something that everybody goes through,” Snitker said. “We’ve been through it before. Personally, I just hate it for the young men that it affects more than us. These guys love to play the game. When something happens to those guys, I hate it for the individuals more than us, quite honestly.”

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