Q&A: Ronald Acuña Jr. on playing without fans and becoming 'teammates' with Mike Trout

Mike Oz
·6 mins read

Imagine, if you would, a world in which Mike Trout and Ronald Acuña Jr. are playing on the same team, in the same outfield. That would be two of MLB’s brightest stars and most talented players — that’s like a 10-tool outfield between the two of them.

It’s probably not happening in MLB anytime soon, but the company softball game for BODYARMOR might be pretty entertaining.

Acuña, the Atlanta Braves star who is fast becoming one of the new faces of MLB, was unveiled Wednesday as one of the new faces of the BODYARMOR sports drink as well. He joins Trout, Mookie Betts and Anthony Rizzo on the baseball side. That’s pretty elite. He’s also part of a crop of new BODYARMOR athletes that includes some of the brightest young stars in their respective sports — Trae Young, Sabrina Ionescu, Christian McCaffrey and Drew Lock.

Here’s an entertaining Zoom call between the group, with a brief pep talk from James Harden:

Acuña doesn’t usually need any pep. He’s one of the most exciting and enthusiastic players in MLB. But he and the Braves have found themselves in a different world in this shortened, strange baseball season. Their division has been ravaged by coronavirus, with the Marlins and Phillies each missing big chunks of time. It impacted their clubhouse leader Freddie Freeman, who tested positive before the season started.

Yahoo Sports talked to Acuña about how the team has handled the rigors of baseball during a pandemic, what he thinks about not playing in front of fans and his new “teammate” Trout. (Note: All of Acuña’s answers came through an interpreter.)

Ronald Acuña Jr. joins the likes of Mike Trout and Mookie Betts as a BODYARMOR athlete. (BODYARMOR)
Ronald Acuña Jr. joins the likes of Mike Trout and Mookie Betts as a BODYARMOR athlete. (BODYARMOR)

Yahoo Sports: We’re a week and a half in, what do you think so far about baseball in 2020?

Ronald Acuña Jr.: Thank you so much for the opportunity. We have a really good team and we’re hoping that things are going to go very well for us this season

What’s been the toughest adjustment for you with all the changes this season?

The biggest challenge has been to continue the same energy that we usually have. We have a lot of young players, as well as veterans, on the team so we need to continue with that same energy and stamina that’s normally there to continue throughout the season.

You’re a pretty enthusiastic guy. Is it tough not to celebrate and high five and some of those things that you’re not supposed to do this season?

It’s been a bit difficult because of the times we’re living in right now. But we’re trying really hard to continue talking to each other and not feeling too far from one another as a team.

When you join BODYARMOR you get to join the likes of Mike Trout and Mookie Betts, James Harden, Megan Rapinoe. How does it feel for you as a young athlete to join a group like that?

Again, thank you so much for the opportunity. I am very happy to be a part of the brand and collaborate with these superstars. It’s a true honor to be part of this group and I feel more strongly about participating because of everyone else involved with the brand.

You get to be on the same team now as Mike Trout with BODYARMOR. What would it be like if you guys were actually on the same baseball team? How good would that baseball team be?

I’m very excited to collaborate with Mike through BODYARMOR. He’s one of the best players in MLB and I’ve admired his career from the beginning. He has been a true role model, so I’m excited to be a part of this with him. If we played on the same team it would be really exciting.

You guys have had to adjust to playing without fans, what’s been the weirdest part of that?

It’s very strange that the fans are not there. They are part of our team and we play for them. We’re also not able to shake hands with our teammates. As I said before, they’re there every day keeping up our energy so it’s strange not having them there.

Do you like or not like the fake crowd noise?

To be honest, I don’t like it very much. I don’t feel comfortable because we play for our fans so it’s not the same, but I understand we have to follow protocols so we’ll continue to do that but it’s much better to have the fans there.

The virus has hit the Marlins and the Phillies, both teams in your division, how much as a player do you worry day to day about those things?

We have to be very cautious with what happens to other teams. It’s very sad because they also have families that they have to take of, so would not want this to happen to any of us but that’s why we have to take the protocols seriously and try our best not to get the virus and be isolated from the team.

You guys had Freddie Freeman test positive and then come back healthy. What did the team learn from that experience?

We’re so happy to have him back! He was out for a bit because he showed some symptoms so when we talked with him, we felt concern. But we prayed for him as a team and we’re happy that we have him back now.

Ronald Acuna Jr. #13 celebrates with Dansby Swanson #7 of the Atlanta Braves after beating the New York Mets at Truist Park on August 01, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Ronald Acuna Jr. #13 celebrates with Dansby Swanson #7 of the Atlanta Braves after beating the New York Mets at Truist Park on August 01, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

Who do you think has better hair – you or Dansby Swanson?

Swanson.

Why?

I think he has smoother hair.

There’s been a lot in the news lately about a certain spot for chicken wings in Atlanta and I’m not going to ask about that but I am going to ask about your favorite place to eat in Atlanta.

I don’t have a specific one because I don’t go out a lot here, but I have been to a few restaurants – PF Changs and Fogo De Chao. I don’t have a favorite one because I don’t really go out that much here.

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