4 Scenarios for the Injury of an Atlanta Braves Star

Panic, devastation, and mayhem have struck the Atlanta Braves organization. Reigning MVP, the burgeoning legend Ronald Acuna Jr. has suffered a potentially season-altering injury. We might be overreacting a little, but this is a terrible development. Here is what we know so far. 

How Acuna’s Injury Happened

Thursday, the Braves hosted the Minnesota Twins at CoolToday Park in North Port, FL. In Acuna’s second at bat in the third inning, he ripped a beautiful line drive to center field, scoring Will Castro and Eli White and easing into second base. Acuna, a known base thief, attempted to swipe third base but was picked off trying to get back to second. He would subsequently be pulled from the lineup shortly after. 

On Friday, Acuña participated in batting practice and the pregame warmups in the Braves match-up with the Orioles in North Port. He assured the Braves that he was ready to play in the game but was held from the lineup. 

Later, Acuna Jr. informed the Braves staff that he was feeling soreness. On Friday evening, the Braves had Acuña undergo an MRI, which uncovered the devastating truth: he has some damage to his surgically repaired right knee. An MRI revealed irritation in the meniscus of his right knee.

According to the Braves front office, he is to travel to Los Angeles on Monday for a meeting with Dr. Neal ElAttrache, and we should have a more straightforward timetable for his return to the Braves lineup by Wednesday. All optimism is he will be ready for Opening Day against the Phillies on March 28th. 

Can the Braves Endure his Absence?

We have high expectations for Acuna in 2024, even surmising he will have a better year and lead the Braves to win more than their projected 101.5 games and make a legit run at their fifth World Series title. If this injury aggravates the torn ACL he had repaired in 2021, it could be the beginning of the decline for the 26-year-old who has just entered the prime of his career.  

The Braves already lack outfield depth and do not have a strong farm system. Scuba being placed on anything more than a 15-day stint to start the season would upend the Braves season. 

Doctors Give 4 Possible Scenarios for Acuna’s Return

According to Doctors, There are only four real potential scenarios for Acuna’s injury:

First, if the meniscus is not significantly injured and does not require extensive treatment, a cortisone shot and some rehab should be fine. Acuna could return to the game in 1-3 weeks. This is the best-case scenario, and we should see him on opening day vs the Phillies, a huge series right out of the gate. 

Second, suppose there is concern for a partial tear or pain in the meniscus, which results in swelling. In that case, a non-surgical approach is taken with PRP or stem cells injected into the knee, accompanied by physical therapy. This would result in some missed time before he can return to the game in 4-6 weeks. It’s not great, but it’s not drastically altering the season. It will put the Braves behind the ball and play catch-up come the summer months. 

Third and more seriously, if a large enough portion of the meniscus is torn, surgery may be necessary. This would involve a partial meniscectomy to remove the damaged portion. They say that because the meniscus does not have a strong blood supply, it may not heal well on its own, which could lead to future complications if left untreated. This option may also require a combination with the second scenario, still resulting in a 4-6 week absence.

Fourth, if the MRI shows a significant, unstable tear in the meniscus, it may be too risky for Acuna to continue playing with it. While unlikely, if this is the case, the damage to the meniscus is extensive enough that removing it would be detrimental to his knee and future career. They would have to repair the meniscus, providing the best chance to heal and preserve the ACL reconstruction. This would mean Acuna’s season is over, the Braves will likely miss the playoffs, and, worst of all, the Phillies are ripe for a World Series appearance. 

Main Image: Mike Lang / USA TODAY NETWORK

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