Ronald Acuna Jr. wants to play on Opening Day, will defer to Atlanta Braves medical staff on return schedule

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Atlanta Braves star outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr., just eight months out with a torn ACL, says he wants to play in the defending champions’ season opener but will get over it team medical staff.

Acuna estimated he was at 95% when asked Monday where he was with his power and strength. The 2018 NL Rookie of the Year said he had resumed basic and defensive drills but would wait for the go-ahead from coaches and medical staff before resuming play.

“If it were up to me, I’d say I’d be ready for opening day,” he said through an interpreter. “But we all know it’s not my decision. So either way I’m just going to be ready.”

Acuna said the rehabilitation process has been difficult, especially since the knee injury sidelined him during the World Series championship in Atlanta last year.

Atlanta hasn’t set a timeline for Acuna’s return, but its coaches recently told ESPN’s Marly Rivera that the two-time All-Star hopes to return in May. The Braves begin their season on April 7 against the Cincinnati Reds.

Acuna, 24, was batting .283 with 24 home runs and 17 stolen bases in just 82 games last year before suffering the season-ending knee injury in July.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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