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Ronald Acuña Jr. is making his Atlanta Braves’ season debut well ahead of schedule.
Atlanta Braves fans rejoice, as the franchise’s best player in outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. will be making his long-awaited return to the lineup on Thursday night vs. the Chicago Cubs.
Acuña has not played a game for the Braves at the big-league level since tearing his ACL on the warning track down in Miami right before the All-Star break. Though Atlanta would catch fire in the final third of the season to win its first World Series title in 26 years, Acuña was obviously sidelined throughout the championship run. His return could not be coming at a better time.
When Acuña found out he was coming back to the show after rehabbing at Triple-A Gwinnett, “he started screaming and celebrating” during an impromptu 1:00 a.m. ET FaceTime with the Braves.
Braves Country has been waiting patiently for this monumental moment for a very, very long time.
Ronald Acuña Jr. returns: Where is Atlanta Braves outfielder in the lineup?
While Acuña was supposed to return to the Braves on May 6 initially as the team’s DH, that notion went to hell in a hand basket out of pure necessity. Atlanta has gotten off to a slow start in April with a mediocre 8-11 record. Not only that, but having NLCS hero Eddie Rosario sidelined with a “hole in his retina” means Acuña has to save Atlanta’s increasingly atrocious outfield defense.
With Kyle Wright toeing the rubber, here is what Brian Snitker has drawn up for Atlanta tonight.
- RF Ronald Acuna Jr.
- 1B Matt Olson
- 3B Austin Riley
- DH Marcell Ozuna
- 2B Ozzie Albies
- C Travis d’Arnaud
- CF Adam Duvall
- LF Travis Demeritte
- SS Dansby Swanson
Naturally, Acuña is batting his typical lead-off spot upon his triumphant return. While he looked good in the outfield in his rehab assignment with the Gwinnett Stripers, it is a bit strange to see him penciled in at right field. Then again, any defensive prowess he provides in right is a huge boost. It will also allow Marcell Ozuna to focus on hitting as the presumptive DH going forward.
Even though his best friend on the team in second baseman Ozzie Albies did a fine job handling lead-off duties in the interim, kicking him down to fifth in the middle of the order is another huge boost for the Atlanta lineup. The switch-hitting second baseman can provide Atlanta something that it has been missing in the second half of the batting order going forward. This is so important.
With Acuña returning to the lineup, the Braves are slightly closer to being back at full strength.