As the Atlanta Braves open a weekend series on Friday against the host Cincinnati Reds, they are hopeful that star right fielder Ronald Acuna Jr. will return to their already potent lineup.
On Thursday, Acuna rejoined the defending World Series champions in Philadelphia but did not play after receiving treatment for his bruised left foot back in Atlanta earlier in the week.
Acuna fouled a pitch off his left foot in the third inning of Atlanta's Saturday night home game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, and he left after the eighth inning.
"(The medical staff) said he was significantly better. It was just going to be a matter of time before he could put weight on his foot," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "With a bruise, it just takes awhile."
Acuna was spotted Sunday using a medical scooter as the pain kept him from putting any pressure on the foot. X-rays and an MRI exam showed no fracture.
The Braves will send lefty Max Fried (7-2, 2.77 ERA) to the mound on Friday for his second start of the season against Cincinnati. In the season opener on April 7 in Atlanta, Fried was charged with five runs on eight hits over 5 2/3 innings as he took a 6-3 loss to the Reds.
Lifetime against Cincinnati, Fried is 1-2 with a 6.39 ERA in four appearances (two starts). His only win against Cincinnati came on Aug. 1, 2019, when he allowed one run and four hits over six innings in Atlanta's 4-1 victory.
The Reds will counter with a lefty of their own, Mike Minor (1-4, 7.71 ERA), who will make his sixth start of the season and his first career appearance against his former team. The Braves are the last major league team he has yet to face.
Minor was roughed up in his Saturday start at San Francisco when the Giants rocked him for six runs and eight hits, including three home runs, over five innings.
The Braves finished a 10-game span against teams over .500 with a 14-4 road loss to the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday night, giving them a 6-4 mark in the stretch.
This season, the Braves are 18-18 when playing against teams with a winning record, and 26-15 against teams under .500. The Braves conclude their six-game road trip with three games in Cincinnati.
The Reds, who are set to open an 11-game homestand, will play 21 of their 27 games in July at home. They concluded a 3-3 road trip to San Francisco and Chicago with a 15-7 loss to the Cubs on Thursday.
One of Cincinnati's sparkplugs is starting to heat up. Nick Senzel is 11-for-23 (.478) in seven games since getting a day out of the starting lineup on June 22. His average has risen from .203 to .240 in that span.
"I am always working on making adjustments that are necessary to put myself in the best position to be consistent," Senzel said. "It's always a work in progress, and I will keep working and working and working. You never get to the end. You continue to work and improve. You go through failure and success. You try to keep your mind strong and you keep working at it."
Reds manager David Bell added, "You never know if he would have figured it out anyway. Maybe the off day had nothing to do with it. There's no way to prove it. But there are definitely times when just taking a step back, just sitting there watching a game can slow things down."
--Field Level Media