Outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. continues to be the minor league ace and heads to May 6 return date for Atlanta Braves

ATLANTA — Ronald Acuna Jr. is attacking his minor league rehab mission as if he’s motivated to rush the Atlanta Braves’ target date of May 6 to come off the injured reserve.

Acuna, 24, coming back from a torn right ACL, stole second base from rehab while having two hits and a walk Friday with Triple-A Gwinnett, a performance that caught the attention of the U.S. manager Brave Brian Snitker.

“Looking at some of the video, I think he was maybe a little more active than you wanted to see,” Snitker said with a smile on Saturday ahead of Atlanta’s 9-7 loss to the Marlins. from Miami. “[But these are] good indicators that he is exactly where he needs to be.”

On Saturday, the Braves star outfielder continued. He went 2 for 3 with one run scored, one run batted in and three walked. Overall, Acuna is 5 for 12 for the Stripers.

Atlanta, a little inconsistent early on this season as it moves through some roster changes, could use Acuna these days. The World Series champions are just 7-9, including 4-5 at home, and will have a minus-13 point differential in Sunday’s game against the Marlins.

On Saturday, homeloaded pinch hitter Garrett Cooper hit a single in the seventh led in two runs as Miami outlasted Atlanta. Trailing 7-6, the Marlins rallied with three runs against Braves rookie Spencer Strider (0-1), who allowed two hits and two walks without recording an out. The Braves bullpen allowed six runs.

Earlier in the evening, Miami’s Jorge Soler received his Braves World Series ring before hitting a single in the sixth inning. Soler is one of several title-team Braves not currently with the club; Freddie Freeman, who plays first base for the Los Angeles Dodgers, is another, but perhaps Acuna could help the club restore order soon enough.

Acuna is a two-time All-Star and was playing as an MVP contender last season before injuring his right knee in the outfield at Marlins Park on July 10. He was hitting .283 with 24 home runs and a .990 OPS in 82 games at the time of the injury, and was left on the sidelines of Atlanta’s World Series title run.

When Acuna was officially assigned to the minors, Snitker, looking forward to his return to the majors, said the outfielder “will be a boost for this club,” and he certainly has been for his affiliates until now. ‘now.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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