Braves’ Mike Soroka hit in knee by comebacker during rehab

Braves right-hander Mike Soroka throws from a practice mound during baseball spring training at CoolToday Park in North Port, Fla., on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. Soroka tore his right Achilles tendon in his third start last season. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

Credit: Curtis Compton

Credit: Curtis Compton

Braves right-hander Mike Soroka throws from a practice mound during baseball spring training at CoolToday Park in North Port, Fla., on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. Soroka tore his right Achilles tendon in his third start last season. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

Mike Soroka might be a little slower to return to the Braves than initially expected.

When he pitched a few days ago, Soroka was hit in the knee by a comebacker, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. The Braves don’t yet have a start date for his rehab assignment.

The knee is just bruised. It’s not thought to be a long-term issue, but the club is ensuring the young pitcher fully heals.

Soroka is in Florida ramping up to eventually start a rehab assignment. Since spring training, the thought has been that he would return in the second half.

Manager Brian Snitker on Monday said Soroka threw a live batting practice session over the weekend.

Soroka, who never has pitched out of the bullpen in his career, is rehabbing as a starting pitcher. It doesn’t seem as if the Braves will look at how he fits on the 26-man roster until he begins a rehab assignment.

The Braves might not have an obvious name to pull out of their rotation when Soroka returns. Ian Anderson owns a 5.09 ERA, but is young, talented and equipped with postseason experience. He could quickly straighten out his performance and string together some good starts. Spencer Strider is a rookie, but has posted a 3.31 ERA through seven starts since the club moved him into the rotation.

Soroka is attempting to return from his second Achilles tear. He tore the tendon twice in less than a year. In May, he told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution he hoped to pitch 60 innings through the end of the regular season, and that he and the club wanted to keep him under 100 innings total.

Soroka, who made his MLB debut in 2018, has a 2.86 ERA over 37 career starts. He was an All-Star in 2019. Before tearing his Achilles tendon in 2020, he appeared to be one of the game’s great young pitchers.

He turns 25 in August. He still is young. Plus, he believes the fact he has not pitched in almost two years could help save his arm in the long run.

“That’s the goal,” Soroka told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in May. “I don’t see a reason why not. I’m only 24, and I have a lot to learn. Just make sure I’m healthy enough to be able to learn those things and hone my craft and be there for a long time.”

Big night for Anderson

Anderson allowed eight hits and walked a batter Tuesday, but surrendered only a run over five innings.

His night went much differently than it had five days before, when the Phillies crushed his pitching over two innings.

Anderson’s latest start could be important going forward.

“I think it’s big,” Austin Riley said after Tuesday’s win. “He’s a really good pitcher, and we know that, the team knows that. I think just getting back out there and bulldogging. I thought he threw the ball well. He was able to get out of some tough situations at times, and I think that shows that he’s in the right direction because he’s a really good pitcher and for sure needed it.”

After his Philadelphia outing, Anderson said his season – to that point – hadn’t been good enough. But Anderson is young. And thus far in his career, he’s pitched in postseason games and has maneuvered out of tons of trouble. He’s still learning, but he’s talented.

He could be a guy who simply straightens out his direction down the stretch and becomes a weapon down the stretch and in the postseason.

“I think it is (that guy),” Riley said. “You go through rough patches. He’s one of those guys, I’ve always said it, he never shows emotion, just very even-keel. I think that goes a long way in this game when you do start to struggle a little bit. I don’t worry about him at all. It was a good night for him.”

Added Snitker: “He’s been through a whole lot in a young career. He’s done stuff and experienced some things that guys that pitched their whole career never get to do. He came through with flying colors, too. ... You’re going to go through things where you got to grind through, and it’s not going to be fun. And when you’re trying to get to where you’re going to go, it’s just not going to happen and be A,B,C,D. You’re going to be tested in that.”

Braves set Atlanta-era record

For the first time since the Braves moved to Atlanta in 1966, seven of their players have double-digit home run totals before the All-Star break.

William Contreras made it seven when he hit his 10th bomb of the season in Tuesday’s win. He joined Austin Riley (21), Marcell Ozuna (16), Dansby Swanson (14), Matt Olson (12), Travis d’Arnaud (11) and Adam Duvall (10) as Braves with at least 10 homers this season.

“I can’t explain it,” Snitker said. “They don’t sit down there and work on hitting homers. They work on making solid contact and things like that, their mechanics. There’s some big, strong guys that are hitting it.”

The crazy part is this: It could have been eight had Ronald Acuña (seven homers) played the full season to this point, or perhaps nine if Ozzie Albies (eight) hadn’t fractured his foot.

The Rangers also have seven players who have hit double-digit homers. No other club has more than five.

Duvall is ‘ready to go’

Eddie Rosario – not Adam Duvall – was in Wednesday’s lineup in left field.

But the good sign came Tuesday, when Duvall entered the game late to play left field. Snitker said Duvall could have hit if necessary, which is a positive development after he was hit in the hand by a pitch in Saturday’s win over the Reds.

The Braves, Snitker said, wanted to give the right-handed hitting Duvall one more day before starting him versus Cardinals lefty Matthew Liberatore in Thursday’s series finale.

“He’s good,” Snitker said. “He’s ready to go, pretty much.”