MLB Notebook: Ronald Acuña Jr. injured, Ángel Hernández retired, and more

Photo credit:© Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Brett Holden
21 days ago

Ronald Acuña Jr. will require season-ending ACL surgery

Ronald Acuña Jr. is out for the year after tearing his ACL on Sunday. In the top of the first inning, Acuña made a move for a delayed steal of third base before Pirates catcher, Yasmani Grandal, threw the ball back to pitcher, Martín Pérez. Acuña stopped quickly to pivot back to second but immediately went down, writhing in pain and clutching his left knee.
Pérez came over and tagged the injured Acuña for the out but fear around the ballpark was all anyone felt. Acuña would limp off the diamond in clear discomfort while anxiety grew about the potential severity of the injury. Unfortunately for Acuña, the Braves, and really all of baseball, he suffered a tear to his left ACL and will require season-ending surgery.
This is not Acuña’s first rodeo with severe knee injuries; in 2021, Acuña’s season was cut short after tearing the ACL in his right knee. He would miss the rest of the season and wouldn’t return until April the following year.
In Spring Training this year, Acuña missed some time after re-aggravating that knee in a run down with the Minnesota Twins, limiting him to 11 Spring Training appearances and missing two weeks of game action. Sadly, this new injury he suffered is in his other knee, making it two knee surgeries in the past four years, one on each knee.
Acuña says this knee injury feels different. He says he did not feel a pop in the knee and only felt pain immediately which eventually subsided quicker than his first ACL tear in Miami. However, even though Acuña compared the injury to an ACL sprain he suffered back in 2018, to Acuña’s dismay, it is worse than first thought. The injury is a complete tear of the ACL and will end his season.
As mentioned, the injury happened when it appeared Acuña was attempting to steal third on a delayed steal, which Acuña confirmed, but one change by Grandal from previous pitches made him second-guess the decision.
He saw the catcher throwing the ball back to the pitcher very slow and he was timing out so he could steal third, but then in that moment he threw it hard and he had to come back. That’s when he felt it,” Braves coach, Eddie Perez said, translating for Acuña.
Acuña’s had a solid start to the year, hitting .250 in the first few months, clubbing four homers and 15 RBIs while bagging 16 bases. For most players, that would be a great start, but for Acuña who finished his MVP season last year with a .337 average with 41 homers, 106 RBIs and 73 stolen bases. But Manager Brian Snitker says he is not worried about the future of the team this season but feels bad for Acuña.
I feel worse for the kid than for us just that he has to go through this again. Kinda felt like he was starting to get things turned around.”
The Braves have braced numerous injury issues this season. Players like Sean Murphy, Spencer Strider, and the organization’s No. 1 prospect, AJ Smith-Shawver have all hit the injured list this year. Murphy just recently returned from the oblique injury he suffered on Opening Day, Spencer Strider is out for the year after undergoing Tommy John surgery, and Smith-Shawver is also out with an oblique injury after his first 4.1 innings in the Major Leagues.
Atlanta currently sits six games back of the Philadelphia Phillies for the top spot in the NL East but does own a four-game lead in the NL Wild Card race. Acuña will be a massive loss for the Braves but if we know anything about the Braves and Alex Anthopolous, they will be just fine. Whether the Acuña replacement comes within the organization, or AA gets to work, Atlanta will be just fine.

Much-maligned MLB umpire Angel Hernandez retires

Long-time and controversial MLB Umpire, Angel Hernandez, has announced his retirement from Major League Baseball, effective immediately.
Hernandez has umpired in the Major Leagues since 1991 and is the only Umpire in the MLB today to call games through the 90s. The next longest-tenured Umpires shockingly include some of the game’s most popular game-callers in the Major Leagues, including Laz Diaz, Phil Cuzzi, Andy Fletcher, and Dan Iassonga, who all entered the league in 2000.
Angel Hernandez is well-known in the baseball world and not exactly for all the right reasons. Hernandez is known to be one of the most inaccurate and infuriating umpires in the entire league. He currently ranks in the 22nd percentile in accuracy amongst all active umpires with a 92.3% accuracy rate, 21st percentile in consistency with 93%, 4th percentile in favour, and 2nd percentile in leverage… That’s not great.
But it’s not just his inconsistency that draws the ire of fans, but the timing of his missed calls, from late-inning phantom strikeouts to boneheaded out calls on the basepaths, Hernandez seems to rarely get anything right.
The MLB approached Hernandez earlier this year about possibly retiring and while initially declining, he hasn’t umpired a game since May 9th, while the two sides came to a financial agreement.
Hernandez attempted to sue the MLB twice since 2017, on the grounds of racial discrimination after he was not selected to Umpire any World Series games and declined to promote him to crew chief. That lawsuit was dismissed both times and even drew some fuss when the MLB accused Hernandez of eavesdropping on a disciplinary call after he misinterpreted the rules in a 2019 game between the Rays and Red Sox. Hernandez stayed on a phone call between one of the umpires and the league that was intended to be private between the two parties. Hernandez had been reminded of the rule in a briefing prior to the series but still messed up the call.
Hernandez says that he wants to spend more time with his family in retirement. Hernandez is not on social media and remains relatively removed from the discourse surrounding him among fans. But, Angel’s lawyer says that impact is more felt by his family.
What hurts him the most is the pain that his two daughters and his wife go through when they know it’s so unbelievably undeserved.”
Will Angel Hernandez be missed? I think so, it won’t be the same blaming C.B. Bucknor or Mike Estabrook. The memes will never be the same. But for a man who spent over three decades in the highest level the sport of baseball has to offer, despite the controversy, the hate, and the frustration, congratulations on an absolutely legendary career, Angel.

Quick Notes:

  • Cristian Javier hits the IL. Javier skipped his scheduled bullpen on Sunday with forearm tightness and was placed on the 15-day IL on Monday.
  • Nick Pivetta becomes the sixth Canadian to hit 1,000 career strikeouts. Pivetta joins a pretty impressive list including Ryan Dempster, John Hiller, Fergie Jenkins, Kirk McCaskill, and Erik Bedard.
  • Jorge Polanco to miss time with hamstring tightness. Polanco missed time earlier this month with tightness in that hamstring but returned last week from the injury. Polanco lasted less than a week, exiting the Mariners game on Sunday after feeling the hamstring tighten up again. Polanco was placed on the 10-day IL on Monday. 

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