May 28, 2024 - Sports

Ronald Acuña Jr.'s injury is a bummer for all of baseball — even the Phillies agree

Braves star Ronald Acuna Jr. walks off the field with trainers after a season ending knee injury

Ronald Acuña Jr. walks off the field with trainers after suffering what turned out to be a season-ending injury Sunday in Pittsburgh. Photo: Justin Berl/Getty Images

The Ronald Acuña Jr. show is so captivating that when he fell to the dirt Sunday with a season-ending knee injury, even the Braves' rivals groaned at the reality that there would be no more episodes this year.

What they're saying: "You don't ever want to see that happen. To anyone," Kyle Schwarber of the Phillies, who are ahead of the Braves in the NL East standings, told the Philadelphia Inquirer.

  • "You want to see guys have success and do good," he added, "especially a guy who's good for the game and an electric player. You don't want to see them get hurt."
  • "I think it's terrible," Philadelphia manager Rob Thomson said, according to the Inquirer. "It hurts the sport when great players go down. I don't care who they are. I don't care what team they play for. It's bad for baseball."

Between the lines: Acuña won last year's MVP by becoming the first player in history to hit 40 or more home runs and steal more 70 or more bases. Although he wasn't playing at that level this year — he was batting .250 with just four home runs — he was still a stop-everything-and-watch-now player every time he stepped to the plate.

Reality check: Atlanta entered the season as the No. 2 favorite to win the World Series, just behind the Dodgers. After Acuña's injury, they fell to fourth among oddsmakers.

Yes, but: The Braves have been through this before. On July 10, 2021, Acuña leapt for a fly ball in Miami and came down hard, blowing out his right knee. The Braves were a mediocre 44-44 at that point in the 2021 season, and most of Atlanta knows what they did next:

This year's team is arguably deeper and better than that team, as the AJC's Michael Cunningham wrote. Also, they received two bits of good news through the fog of the Acuña injury this weekend.

  • Slugger Austin Riley, who hit 37 homers last year, returned to the lineup after missing a few weeks with muscle inflammation in his left side.
  • Catcher Sean Murphy returned, too.

State of play: With the season nearly one-third over, Atlanta entered Tuesday's games 30-21, six games behind their suddenly gracious adversaries from Philadelphia.

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