The Atlanta Braves may get slugger Ronald Acuna Jr. back in the lineup on Friday when they open a seven-game homestand against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Acuna was leading the league in batting average (.419), home runs (seven), extra-base hits (14), runs (21) and slugging percentage (.887) when he suffered a right abdominal strain while scrambling back to first base on a pickoff attempt Sunday at Chicago. He did not play either game against the New York Yankees.
The injury proved less severe than feared. An MRI on Monday showed just a mild tear and did not require a stint on the injured list.
"I think he still feels it," Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. "But I think he's made significant progress over the last couple of days, so that's good."
The Braves went 3-2 on the road trip. They split two games against the Yankees without Acuna. Atlanta did not play on Thursday.
The Diamondbacks have won four straight and are 5-2 on their current road trip after a three-game sweep in Cincinnati. The finale wasn't easy; Arizona outlasted the Reds 14-11, scoring six times in the 10th and surviving a Cincinnati rally that ended with the tying runner at the plate.
Arizona has seen a surge from left fielder David Peralta, who was 5-for-6 with seven RBIs on Thursday. Peralta lifted his average to .269. He is 10-for-23 with a double, a triple, a home run and nine RBIs on the road trip. Peralta's average had dipped to .152 on April 10.
"His swing has been looking good all year," said teammate Josh Rojas. "It's such a results-oriented sport. You can hit the ball hard and not have anything to show for it. That's what happened to Peralta. Credit to him. The thing is to stay on the grind and the results will come, and (Thursday) was one of those days when the results came."
Atlanta will send young right-hander Huascar Ynoa (0-1, 3.94 ERA) to the mound against Arizona veteran right-hander Luke Weaver (1-1, 3.78).
The Braves hope for a better showing out of Ynoa, who was rocked for six runs and allowed three homers in four innings on April 17 under windy conditions at Chicago. It was his first poor outing since he joined the starting rotation. Ynoa had previously worked five shutout innings against Washington and given up one run in six innings against Miami.
Ynoa's key has been the ability to throw strikes. Sixty-five percent of his pitches have been strikes and he has walked only three in 16 total innings. He's struck out 20.
Ynoa will be making his first career appearance against the Diamondbacks.
Weaver also struggled in his last start on April 17 when he allowed four runs on eight hits in four innings, a 6-2 loss at Washington. He had been sharp in his previous outing when he threw seven scoreless innings, allowing only one hit, one walk and fanning eight.
Weaver has made three career starts against the Braves, going 1-1 with a 4.86 ERA. He has struck out 20 and walked five in 16 2/3 innings. He faced Atlanta twice in 2019 and went 1-0 with a 0.75 ERA, allowing one run in 12 total innings.
The Braves and Diamondbacks did not play in 2020.
--Field Level Media