It’s been a relatively stressful few days when it comes to this year’s version of the Atlanta Braves — after all, they just got done breaking only their second three-game losing streak of the year and did so in pretty stressful fashion after Kenley Jansen made a shaky save to preserve the victory. I’m not particularly worried about Jansen since basically every Dodgers fan that I know made sure to warn me in the offseason that he was going to have days like this. Now that he’s finally Having Days Like This, it’s something to expect and I also believe that we should expect that Kenley Jansen will get it back on the right track — after all, he did pick up the save last night. Sometimes it’s best to not argue with results!
It’s also been pretty stressful for Ronald Acuña Jr. in general. This is also another thing that everybody should’ve seen coming, including myself. Maybe I was far too optimistic about Acuña being a medical marvel who could return from a knee injury and hit the ground running without having any complications down the road. Even with the advancements in health and medicine that have been made, serious knee injuries are still very difficult to get over!
We’ve seen that with the way that Acuña and the Braves have been trying their best to manage the situation as the Venezuelan dynamo attempts to return to form. I’d say that they’re doing a pretty good job being as careful as hey have been so far. As good of a player as Acuña is, it’s better to make sure he gets some rest during the regular season than having to worry about potentially breaking down once October rolls around.
With all of that being said, boy did we take a rollercoaster ride with Ronald Acuña Jr. and his knee last night! So, let’s start with the peak of the rollercoaster, which was watching Acuña absolutely pulverize a baseball for a solo homer that ended up being the winning run in last night’s contest. Any time you send a ball flying 444 feet, you know you’re having a good time that is not at all terrible in the least bit. Acuña may only have 11 home runs this season but when he gets ‘em, he’s been absolutely tagging them.
While everybody was riding high following the victory, the rollercoaster then went back into its valley when Ronald Acuña Jr. made this comment about his knee while taking questions from reporters following the game:
#Braves' Ronald Acuña Jr. on the status of his knee: “It’s terrible. We’re just going to play through it until the season’s over.”— David O'Brien (@DOBrienATL) September 1, 2022
Yikes! That does sound terrible! When you take a look at that quote by just reading it on paper (or on your screen if you want to be literal about it), it definitely seems like it’s one of those things that a dude should absolutely not be playing through until the season’s over. Again, just taking a look at that quote by itself would have you thinking that this is basically the nightmare scenario when it comes to Acuña and his ongoing recovery from his knee injury and surgery.
With that being said, this is one case where the eye test of seeing someone in action or something in motion should far outweight simply reading something. Context matters and let me tell you: the video of Acuña making those comments about his knee provides a ton of context about how he and the Braves may actually feel about his knee right now.
Ronald Acuña Jr. provides an update on his knee a couple hours after hitting a 444-foot home run pic.twitter.com/Snr2Qh3PUt— Bally Sports: Braves (@BravesOnBally) September 1, 2022
Maybe you could wave that off as a nervous laugh to try to make light of the situation but just like I saw Acuña kind of laugh off the situation as he was talking about it, I also saw him send a ball to the daggone moon just hours before he made this statement. Instead of the takeaway being “Oh no, his knee is ruined and he’s never going to be the same again,” I’d figure that this should be a situation where you say “Good grief, he hit a ball 444 feet while his knee feels terrible? Just imagine what he’s going to do when he’s finally 100 percent healthy again?”
If anything, this reminds me of the time a few years ago when Freddie Freeman returned from getting his wrist broken by a pitch and talked after a game about how his wrist was still bothering him. In fact, Freeman himself said that it felt like he was at the plate swinging a “wet newspaper” at the time. I remember it vividly because I logged on and threw a fit about it on this very blog site. I’m saying that now to say that it’s probably best to not panic in this situation. While Freeman’s injury situation was different since he was still gutting through what turned out to be the final year of the mini-rebuild and Ronald Acuña Jr. figures to be an important part of a Postseason contender, the point is that we should probably trust the player and the team to know what’s best in this situation.
Freddie Freeman ended up finishing that 2017 season on a relatively strong note and I’d imagine that it’s hard to complain about this current version of Ronald Acuña Jr. when he’s still producing at a 119 wRC+ clip for the season. It’s easy and actually pretty understandable to panic about Acuña’s knee but again, I’d imagine that everybody with close knowledge of how he’s feeling would tell you that he’ll be able to get through this season and then come back better once he’s had a another offseason to get his footing back, so to speak. If Acuña’s willing to gut it through in order to help this team retain the World Series title then we should have faith that he’ll be about to help this team as the season hits the home stretch.