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ATLANTA -- First, he met with his manager, then his teammates. Then, Atlanta Braves centerfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. ran hard on the bases in his team's 3-0 win over the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 2 of the National League Division Series on Friday. It was a drastic difference to the previous day, when Acuna had to stop at first base on a ball he hit off the right-field wall.
"Yesterday was a difficult day, since I did something that is unacceptable, that was not to run, something that has happened to me twice," Acuna told ESPN's Enrique Rojas after the Braves tied the series, 1-1. "To all the children who follow me and to all who watch baseball, that is unacceptable, no matter who does it. ... It is something that cannot happen."
Acuna spoke with his teammates, hours before Game 2 after Atlanta dropped Game 1 by a single run, 7-6. His failure to make it to second base prompted a postgame rebuke from team leader Freddie Freeman and others. Friday was about making good.
Braves critical of Acuna's lack of hustle in loss
Cardinals' Helsley: Tomahawk chop 'disrespectful' "Today I talked to my colleagues. I am a gentleman. I made a meeting with them and I apologized because that cannot be done," Acuna stated. "I apologize to all the people I offended.
"I also talked to the manager. I went to the manager and apologized. I was filled with emotion. He knows that I always play with intensity and love for this game."
Acuna led off Game 2 with a ground ball to third baseman Tommy Edman and nearly beat out the throw, but his best hustle of the day came in the seventh, when he doubled down the third-base line. He made sure he got to second base, much to the delight of the Braves' faithful -- and undoubtedly his manager.
"It was a good conversation," Brian Snitker said of the pregame meeting. "It's not the first time, obviously. And my gist of it, I think, to him without expanding on anything, is I'm not going to give up on this kid. I mean, I'm going to go to the end of the earth trying to help this guy. And understand the responsibilities of where we're all at. It was a good conversation."
Snitker pulled Acuna from a game in August after he failed to make it to second in a similar situation. And there have been other instances of him stopping at first base because of a lack of hustle out of the box. But the reigning NL Rookie of the Year says it won't happen again.
"That won't happen to me again in the postseason, in the regular [season], in [spring] training, that can't happen again," he said.