Rafael Furcal won’t have any limitations with elbow injury

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Rafael Furcal was shut down in August with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, which is the same injury that requires Tommy John surgery for pitchers.

Shortstops are pretty reliant on their arm strength too, but Furcal opted against surgery and so far at least that looks like the right call. An offseason MRI exam showed that the ligament had healed on its own and now Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com reports that Furcal has been cleared to hit, field, and throw.

Manager Mike Matheny made it clear that the Cardinals will monitor Furcal and his spring training workload closely, but he’s in line to be the Opening Day starter.

Ronald Acuña batting sixth, playing left field in his Braves debut

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The Braves have made it official, announcing that they have called up top prospect Ronald Acuña. He’ll bat sixth in tonight’s game against the Reds and will start in left field.

Acuña will be wearing number 13, no doubt to honor past Braves luminaries like Adonis Garcia, Nate McLouth, Ozzie Guillen, Juan Eichelberger and Jerry Royster, all of whom have worn the fabled 1 and 3. Feel like he stands a pretty good chance of besting their exploits.

The 20-year-old Acuña was 11-for-his-last-33 with a homer, a double, four walks, and three stolen bases at Triple-A Gwinnett following a slow start. He tore it up in spring training, however, and hit .325/.374/.522 with 21 home runs, 82 RBI, 44 stolen bases, and 88 runs scored in 139 games last season across three levels of the Braves’ minor league system.

The future was delayed a bit, but it’s here now for the Atlanta Braves’ phenom.