Braves Criticize Ronald Acuna Jr. for Lack of Hustle in NLDS Game 1 Loss
Braves centerfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. has drawn criticism from his teammates for his perceived lack of hustle on a play in Game 1 of the National League Division Series.
While leading off the seventh inning, he hit a high fly ball to right field that looked like it might sail over the wall at SunTrust Park. Acuna trotted down the baseline while holding his bat but was held at first base when Cardinals outfielder Dexter Fowler played it off the wall.
First baseman Freddie Freeman called out Acuna after the 7–6 loss to the Cardinals.
"Yeah, it's frustrating," he said, per ESPN. "But I think you have that conversation once. It's kind of beating a dead horse after that if you keep having the same conversation over and over again. You have to know that was a mistake."
When asked about the moment, Acuna admitted that he'd handle it differently if he could rewind the night.
"I mean, I was trying to give my best effort and those are those things that just kind of get away from you. So, obviously, I would've loved to have a double, if I could take it back."
The seventh inning could have ended differently if he'd reached second base. Acuna would have likely reached third on Ozzie Albies' ground out. Instead, he was doubled off the bag when Josh Donaldson later lined out to shortstop.
"He probably scores in that inning if he's on second base," Albies said. "It's a big deal. He knows he needs to do better there."
Acuna went 3-for-5 with a double, two RBIs and a two-run homer in the ninth inning. However, it wasn't enough to deliver a win for Atlanta. This isn't the first time the Braves have dealt with a lack of hustle from the young star. Manager Brian Snitker benched him in a game against the Dodgers on Aug. 18.
Snitker met with Acuna ahead of Friday's NLDS Game 2 and told reporters he will continue to support the young star.
"It was a good conversation," Snitker said. "It's not the first time, obviously. And my gist of it, I think, to him without expanding on anything, is I'm not going to give up on this kid. I mean, I'm going to go to the end of the earth trying to help this guy. And understand the responsibilities of where we're all at."