MLB

Braves manager Brian Snitker stops Ronald Acuña Jr. from hitting lefty in blowout, jokes about job security

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The Atlanta Braves thoroughly depantsed the Pittsburgh Pirates in a homer-filled 20-1 blowout win (box score) Friday night at Truist Park. Among Atlanta’s seven home runs were two grand slams, including one by wunderkind Ronald Acuña Jr.

With the game out of hand in the eighth inning, the right-handed hitting Acuña attempted to take an at-bat left-handed against position player Wilmer Difo, but manager Brian Snitker wasn’t having it. He called Acuña back from the on-deck circle and told him to hit righty. Here’s the video:

“He tried. I told him I’ve got three grandkids I’ve got to put through college,” Snitker jokingly told reporters, including The Athletic’s David O’Brien. Snitker was, of course, referring to his job security should Acuña have gotten hurt swinging lefty.

I suppose there is an unwritten rules component to this — showing up the other team by letting a player hit from his unnatural side seems like a thing that would be frowned upon, even with a position player on the mound — but mostly it’s about health. Even with Friday’s win, the Braves are 21-24 this season. The last thing they need is Acuña pulling an oblique doing something he doesn’t train to do.

Other teams are a little more willing to roll the dice with the health of their best players. Earlier this year Chicago Cubs shortstop Javier Báez took an at-bat left-handed. He did the same thing in 2019, the year after he was runner-up for the NL MVP award.

Acuña, 23, went 2 for 5 with the grand slam Friday, and is hitting .284/.388/.628 with an MLB-leading 14 home runs this season.



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