Braves’ Michael Soroka experiencing hamstring tightness



NORTH PORT, Fla. – Michael Soroka (“Michael” is his preference, now) reported to spring training, but is not a full go.

Soroka is dealing with left hamstring tightness, manager Brian Snitker said. The Braves are holding him back as a precaution.

“Just one of those ‘make sure’ type things,” said Snitker, who appeared to indicate the ailment was not serious.

Still, the Braves can’t be too careful with Soroka – or anyone, for that matter. One main goal in spring training is to stay healthy.

Snitker said Soroka reported the tightness when he arrived in North Port.

“It’s just something that just kind of came up,” Snitker said. “It’s nothing bad or anything like that. It’s like I told them guys yesterday: If you feel anything at all, we got a lot of time down here, so we don’t want to try and push through anything. We want to make sure. We have a full spring, so I don’t want them not letting us know anything that’s going on.”

The hamstring tightness is unfortunate news for Soroka, who has not pitched in a big-league game since 2020 after tearing his Achilles tendon twice. He entered spring training as one competitor for the fifth spot in the starting rotation, with Ian Anderson and Bryce Elder being two of the other names to watch there.

Soroka, an All-Star in 2019, has a 2.86 career ERA over 214 innings. He once appeared to be one of the game’s top starters before the injuries derailed his career.

Now, he is hoping to make a comeback.

At Braves Fest in January, Soroka said he felt how he would during a normal year, which was good news. He expected to be on the same schedule as other pitchers during camp.

He said he felt like an athlete – almost as if he could loosen up.

“I think at a certain point, somewhere in there, whether it was expectations I put on myself, I almost started to muscle up and try real hard, try too hard to do some things, and that started to be counterproductive for me,” Soroka said. “I think this year is gonna be really, really big for taking a deep breath, trusting the work that I’ve done, trusting who I am, relaxing and just playing.”

Because of the hamstring tightness, it seems like it might take a tad longer for Soroka to begin his comeback story.

Snitker on getting to know Strider

A year ago, pitching coach Rick Kranitz and Snitker watched Spencer Strider throw during spring training, when no one knew he would have a magical rookie season.

One year later, Strider is viewed as the second-best Braves starting pitcher. If he repeats his performance from his first season in the majors, he’ll begin cementing himself as one of the top starters in the game.

“It’s been really interesting,” Snitker said of learning more about Strider. “I mean, I’ve really enjoyed getting to know him, (and) last year watching him. The dedication, how consistent he is, the work ethic, the competitiveness, how driven he is. I’ve been very, very impressed with the young man and especially (for) a kid with the lack of professional experience he’s had, and how he’s coming in and getting to know him.”

Good company

Whether it be right-hander Blake Burkhalter (drafted last summer) or left-hander Jared Shuster (a top prospect) or catcher Drake Baldwin, the Braves have a few exciting young players in big-league camp.

In addition to the experience of going through workouts and playing in games in major-league spring training, those guys are getting valuable time around the big-league Braves.

“It’s awesome for all those young guys to see the process and what we do and how we do it,” Snitker said. “Even more so, getting with the analytics guys once the games start and things like that. It’s their first big-league spring training; it’s a fun time for them.”

Credit: Curtis Compton

Credit: Curtis Compton