Ronald Acuna Jr. ‘pleading’ with Braves to let him play in Venezuelan Winter League

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Ronald Acuna Jr. has returned to his hometown in La Guaira, Venezuela for the offseason, which he does every year. The soon-to-be 25-year-old is entering his first healthy offseason since injuring his ACL during the 2021 season, and he’s eager to play in the Venezuelan Winter League, but the club told David O’Brien of The Athletic that he is only going to be working out with the Tiburones de La Guaira. 

Acuna isn’t exactly the type of player to go back home where he’s a revered figure and just workout. He wants to play. Baseball in South and Central America is different in the United States. It’s a party every game, and I imagine Acuna is the biggest thing in the league — hell, he’s the biggest thing in the MLB when he’s playing at his best. So it’s no surprise he’s pleading with the Braves to let him play, O’Brien said.

I’m not a doctor, so I have no idea what the ideal offseason program for the Acuna would be. However, there’s no denying the injury affected his 2022 campaign. Over his first four seasons, the outfielder slashed .281/.376/.550 with 43 homers on a 162-game pace, good for a .925 OPS. This season, he slashed .266/.351/.413 with 20 home runs on a 162-game pace and a .764 OPS. The power just wasn’t there. He was also caught stealing more times than in any other season.

Acuna said several times that the injury was in the back of his mind, so I’m not exactly fond of the idea of him playing more baseball right after the Braves finished another playoff run. But again, I’m no doctor. Perhaps the extra reps would only make him feel more comfortable moving forward.

Hopefully, with an entire offseason to regain his confidence, the MVP-caliber Ronald Acuna Jr. will return in 2023. To be fair, Ronnie was one of the few — Matt Olson and Travis d’Arnaud included — that showed up in the postseason. Against the Phillies, he logged an .812 OPS. He’s one of the most exciting players in baseball; the game is better with him beating his chest and flipping his bat. I can’t wait to see him on the field next season.

David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire

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