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Ronald Acuña Jr. benched for lack of hustle

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Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. was benched for lack of hustle during Sunday afternoon’s series finale at home against the Dodgers. With Max Fried on second base and no outs in the bottom of the third inning, Acuña hit a deep fly ball to center field off of Tony Gonsolin. Acuña thought it was a home run, so he didn’t run hard out of the batter’s box. It was not, in fact, a home run; the ball stayed in the field of play and Acuña had to settle for a long single. Fried went to third base.

Acuña was later caught stealing and the Braves didn’t end up scoring in the inning. Before the top of the fifth inning, manager Brian Snitker took Acuña out of the game for his lack of effort. Adam Duvall entered the game in left field while Rafael Ortega moved from left to center. It proved to be fortuitous as Ortega would crank out a go-ahead grand slam in the bottom of the sixth.

Acuña, 21, was 1-for-2 on the afternoon before his early exit. He entered Sunday’s action with outstanding numbers batting .295/.375/.537 with 35 home runs, 85 RBI, 104 runs scored, and 29 stolen bases in 576 plate appearances. Snitker, however, is showing that he will put his foot down regardless of one’s stature.

Clayton Kershaw to make Opening Day start for Dodgers

Clayton Kershaw Opening Day
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Dodgers manager Dave Roberts confirmed it in March and he confirmed it again on Tuesday: Clayton Kershaw will start on Opening Day, Jorge Castillo of The Los Angeles Times reports.

The Dodgers are one of four teams that will open the 60-game regular season schedule on July 23; everyone else begins play on the 24th. With a 10 PM ET start, the Dodgers will host the Giants at Dodger Stadium.

Johnny Cueto will likely pitch opposite Kershaw for the Giants. Cueto was named the Giants’ Opening Day starter on March 11, before the league shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic. Manager Gabe Kapler hasn’t yet officially named an Opening Day starter for the makeshift season.

Kershaw, 32, made the Opening Day start eight consecutive times for the Dodgers from 2011-18. Hyun-Jin Ryu, now a Blue Jay, pitched on Opening Day last season for the Dodgers. Last year, Kershaw logged 178 1/3 innings over 28 starts and one relief appearance, his highest innings total since 2015. He went 16-5 with a 3.03 ERA, 189 strikeouts, and 41 walks.