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Atlanta Braves outfielder and reigning National League MVP Ronald Acuña Jr. for now remains on target to be able to play on Opening Day after an MRI recently revealed irritation in the meniscus of his right knee, the Braves announced Tuesday morning. Acuña was examined by Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles and will "gradually increase baseball activities."

Acuña addressed reporters at Atlanta's spring training camp on Tuesday:

While it doesn't appear to be a gravely concerning situation right now, it still bears mentioning that it's the same knee in which Acuña tore his ACL during the middle of the 2021 season. The injury required surgery, sidelined Acuña almost a full year, and likely compromised his production after he returned to game action in 2022. 

Acuña, now 26, is coming off a stellar 2023 season in which he slashed .337/.416/.596 (168 OPS+) with 41 home runs, 383 total bases, and 73 stolen bases. More astounding still, Acuña's quality of contact was such that you can argue he was actually a bit unlucky at the plate last season. 

While the Braves, who are seeking their seventh straight NL East title, have uncommon lineup depth, Acuña is of course an essential part of their success. If the injury turns out to be more serious than anticipated or negatively affects him at the plate and in the field, then it's a serious blow. For now, though, the steps Acuña and the Braves are taking appear to be precautionary in nature. 

The Braves open their 2024 season against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on March 28.