Reigning NL MVP Ronald Acuña Jr suffers second season-ending ACL injury

Atlanta Braves star Ronald Acuña Jr will miss the rest of the season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during Sunday’s 8-1 win at Pittsburgh.

The reigning NL MVP started the game with a double to right-center field off Martín Pérez. With Marcell Ozuna at the plate, Acuña started at third after a stolen base attempt and his left knee buckled. Acuña lay there for several minutes during the treatment, pointing to his left leg before walking away under his own power.

The Braves’ initial diagnosis was left knee pain. But the team announced Sunday night that an MRI showed a complete ACL tear that will require season-ending surgery.

Acuña tore his right ACL in July 2021, ending his season on that occasion – the Braves went on to win the World Series. The 26-year-old outfielder wore a brace in the clubhouse after Sunday’s win and said the injury felt less serious.

“[I] don’t feel so sore, no popping or anything… Don’t think it’s that bad,” Acuña said.

Acuña said he was looking for third when he anticipated a slow throw back to the mound from catcher Joey Bart. The toss came in harder than expected, leading to an abrupt spin back to second, twisting his knee.

Acuña hit .250 with four home runs and 15 RBIs in 49 games. The four-time All-Star hit a career-best .337 last season with 41 home runs and 106 RBIs.

Atlanta was already missing All-Star right-hander Spencer Strider, whose season ended April 13 when he underwent internal brace surgery to repair the ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing elbow. Third baseman Austin Riley is day-to-day with a left rib cage strain, and catcher Sean Murphy remains on the 10-day injured list with an oblique injury after being hurt on opening day.

“It’s something everyone goes through,” Snitker said before the results of Acuña’s MRI were announced. “We’ve been through it before. Personally, I just hate for the young men that it affects more than us. These guys love to play the game. If anything happens to those guys, I honestly hate it more for the individuals than for us.