James McDonald elects free agency

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After being designated for assignment by the Pirates last weekend, right-hander James McDonald is now free to sign with any team.

McDonald passed through waivers unclaimed and opted for free agency rather than accept an outright assignment to the minors. The 28-year-old hasn’t pitched in the majors since April 30 due to shoulder soreness and has become an afterthought over the past couple of months.

McDonald owns a 4.20 ERA over 82 starts and 49 relief appearances in the majors. He hasn’t been the same pitcher since the All-Star break last year, but someone will surely take a chance on him. He could be an intriguing option as a late-inning reliever if his days as a starter are over.

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.