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Ronald Acuna Jr. vows to return ‘stronger than ever’

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Acuña says he will be back and will be better than ever.

Atlanta Braves v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

A difficult season got more difficult for the Atlanta Braves Saturday when Ronald Acuña Jr. was lost for the remainder of the season due to a torn ACL in his right knee. While the Braves must figure out a way to move on without Acuña, his focus must now center on the long road in front of him to get back. Acuña is still with the club in Miami Sunday and spoke with the media prior to Sunday’s game and talked about the injury and his focus going forward.

“I feel bad to be honest right now. When I got the news, I was really disappointed and sad,” Acuña said. “One of the reasons being is I love to play and that’s what I want to do. I want to be able to play. I’m really sad and disappointed for the team just because I know they need me and I want to be there for them and I want to help contribute, but I have the utmost confidence in my teammates to go out and get the job done. I know they’ll do great.”

Acuña was in the midst of putting together a career-best season. Through 82 games he was hitting .283/.394/.596 with 24 home runs and 72 runs scored. His 161 wRC+ is a career-high and he had already accumulated 4.0 fWAR. His highest total came in 2019 when he was worth 5.6 fWAR in 156 games so he was well on his way to shattering that number. With 24 home runs and 17 stolen bases, a second 30-30 season seemed like a lock with an outside shot at 40-40.

Acuña said that he knew something was wrong as soon as the injury happened and now his focus will shift to his rehab in an effort to come back stronger than ever.

“I knew something was wrong. I guess I didn’t understand the severity of it until the doctor told me later on,” Acuña said. “Nothing I can do about it now. I can’t control things I can’t control. So the only thing I can say is I’m obviously going to put in maximum effort to come back stronger than ever. If I was giving 500% before I’m about start giving 1,000%.”

Acuña had been voted in to start for the National League in next week’s All-Star Game at Coors Field. He said Sunday that he is still planning on attending the event.

“It means a lot to me,” Acuña said of being voted to start in the All-Star Game. “I think the fans who went out and showed their support and voted for me, they deserve it as much as as I did. I wouldn’t be here without them.”