Braves slugger Ronald Acuña has kept busy this offseason, warding off rust by playing (with Atlanta’s blessing, of course) in the Venezuelan Winter League. Acuña didn’t have a great season, at least by his usual All-Star standards, in 2022 (career-low .764 OPS), prompting him to seek extra reps in his native Venezuela, where the 25-year-old is representing his hometown Tiburones de La Guaira in this week’s championship series.
Given the green light to swing away on 3-0, the right-handed-hitting DH connected on a solo home run off Red Sox farmhand Norwith Gudino, staking La Guaira to a 5-3 lead in the fourth inning of Tuesday night’s Game 2 at Estadio Universitario de Caracas.
Knowing the ballpark couldn’t hold his towering blast to deep center, Acuña put on a show for the 16,000+ fans in attendance, taking an eternity to circle the bases while paying homage to LeBron James by reenacting his famous “Silencer” celebration. That capped a productive night for Acuña, who also walked and singled in the losing effort.
Sharing a dugout with Alcides Escobar and Franklin Barrero, among other MLB alums, Acuña has dominated in his 10 games this winter, contributing a .441/.513/.647 batting line over 39 plate appearances. It’s a small sample size and obviously against worse competition than he’ll be facing in the big leagues come April and May, but all signs point to a bounce-back season for Acuña, who should be poised for a monster 2023.
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