Ronald Acuña Jr. may need to take Atlanta Braves manager Brian Snitker’s advice on his patented, all-out playing style.
Acuña has only played in 10 games this season since tearing his ACL last summer. He has missed the better part of a week with a groin strain. Though his new injury appears to be of the day-to-day variety, Snitker may have a point in that Acuña, “probably as he gets older and matures, he’ll need to scale back.” There is also the possibility that Acuña may not even listen to his skipper.
“I think the best thing I can do is to keep playing the way I play the game,” said Acuña to Jeff Schultz of The Athletic through his translator after Sunday’s loss to the San Diego. Padres. “If I try to do anything different, it would just diminish the game and it would diminish the way I play.”
Both pillars of the Braves organization have a point, but who will ultimately win out in the end?
Atlanta Braves: Ronald Acuña Jr. may need to listen to Brian Snitker’s advice
Acuña may be in his 20s and his athletic prime, but if he wants staying power in the league, he may need to not be as reckless with his body. The Atlanta front office has clearly decided he will be the face of the franchise going forward. No doubt about it, he is the most exciting talent on the roster currently, but it does not do the Braves any good if he cannot be penciled into it every day.
Having the universal DH will afford him the opportunity to rest his legs in the outfield on occasion, but Atlanta needs his bat in the lineup as many games as possible. Though playing with maximum effort has gotten Acuña this far, it will be up to him, and him alone, to make these necessary adjustments Snitker is advocating for. He is not coming from a place of ridicule, but one of concern.
How his relationship with Acuña shakes out will decide if Snitker will have the luxury of retiring as a career Brave. He has already brought the only professional organization he has known a World Series championship. A few more years of high-quality baseball and Snitker could have his number retired by the Braves organization. It is all about coming together to solve the problem proactively.
If Acuña plans on playing every day, he will make the necessary adjustments to make this happen.