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Acuña keeps career year going in Venezuelan Winter League.

Ronald Acuña Jr. announces retirement from baseball in Venezuela following  altercation with family | Yardbarker

After playing 159 regular-season games with the Atlanta Braves in 2023 and a brief postseason run, Ronald Acuña Jr. apparently doesn’t want the best year of his professional career to come to an end.

Coming from a historic campaign in which he became the first player in MLB with 40 home runs and 70 stolen bases in a single season, which will probably be capped on Thursday with the National League Most Valuable Player Award, Acuña is gearing up to take the field once again with Tiburones de la Guaira in the winter league of his native Venezuela (better known as LVBP).

If Acuña takes the MVP, he will become the first Latin player to see action in his country’s winter league after winning that award since Vladimir Guerrero Sr. wore the Tigres del Licey uniform in the Dominican League for the 2004-05 season after being chosen as the AL MVP with the Angels.

On Tuesday, Acuña practiced in Estadio Jorge Luis García Carneiro de La Guaira before Tiburones faced Caribes de Anzoátegui. During an interview published on his team’s X (formerly known as Twitter) account, Acuña said he is “extremely happy to again live another experience in Venezuelan baseball.”

Among the reasons to play once again in his country, Acuña mentioned that for him, suiting up in Venezuela last year propelled him to have the kind of season he had with Atlanta in 2023.

“There’s always time to learn, there’s always time to improve, and that’s one of the reasons why I’m here, to improve every day — as a person, as a ballplayer — and have a great year the [upcoming] season, God willing, [just] like this one.

“Like I’ve said before, with more time on the field, I think a ballplayer can develop his abilities and can get better results, improve his style of game,” Acuña added. “I think that was the case for me this year.”

When asked if there will be any limitations, Acuña said: “No, not really. I thank God because the Braves are letting me play without any restrictions. I have to play smart, but there aren’t any restrictions.”

In the 2022-23 season, Acuña played 12 games with Tiburones, 10 in the regular season and two during the final round. In the regular season, he went 15-for-34 with a double, two home runs, 10 runs scored and six RBIs, which resulted in a .441/.513/.647 slash line and 1.160 OPS. For the final series against Caracas, Acuña played the first two games and went 2-for-7 with a home run and two walks. After some altercations in the stands between fans and some of his relatives during the second game, Acuña decided to step away from the team.

During the GM Meetings last week in Arizona, Braves president of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos said it’s a good idea for Acuña to play in his country.

“I think it worked well for him. Just him playing was a good thing,” Anthopoulos told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Justin Toscano. “If position players wanna play — I think we view pitchers a little differently — but if any of our position players want to play in the winter, unless they’re coming off some type of injury, we encourage them to play.”

Ronald Acuña Jr. quiere jugar con La Guaira y el Clásico Mundial > El  Informador Venezuela

Acuña has insinuated on social media that he could debut with Tiburones as soon as this Thursday, the same day the MVP Awards will be announced. Acuña is a finalist in the National League along with Dodgers stars Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman.

On Monday, Tiburones GM Alberto Díaz told the LVBP media department that Acuña “will debut any time during this week or the next. Tuesday, Ronald will meet with Luis Sojo [who’s in charge of field personnel] and [manager] Edgardo Alfonzo, to define the guidelines for his stint with Tiburones.’

“At this time, we haven’t set the number of games that he’ll play,” Díaz said. “We’ll have to check the agreement with Atlanta and the previous GM [César Collins] and let them know our plan. After that, we will have a clear idea of how long his stint with the team will be. That will be much more clear on Tuesday.”

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