Braves starting pitcher Mike Soroka on joining TV broadcast, his rehab

Braves pitching coach Rick Kranitz confers with right-hander Mike Soroka, coming back from a torn right Achilles tendon, during his morning pitching session at spring training on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021, in North Port.   Curtis Compton /”

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Braves pitching coach Rick Kranitz confers with right-hander Mike Soroka, coming back from a torn right Achilles tendon, during his morning pitching session at spring training on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021, in North Port. Curtis Compton /”

Long before he first joined the Bally Sports Braves broadcast as a guest analyst last season, Mike Soroka sat in a studio for interviews with Sportsnet 960 The Fan in Calgary, Alberta. Through these experiences with his hometown’s sports radio station, he became comfortable behind a microphone, describing anything and everything.

And now, he’s set to join the Braves’ broadcast for the second time for Friday’s game versus the Marlins at Truist Park.

“A lot of it is just talking about experience – your experience, what you’ve been through,” Soroka said in the Braves’ clubhouse Wednesday. “And I think people enjoy hearing that. It’s definitely much, much easier when you only get one game, and you have all your material you can kind of expend on one game.”

Soroka, the rehabbing right-hander, will join Braves broadcast regulars Chip Caray and Jeff Francoeur as they call the game from the right-field seats. Caray and Francoeur do this all the time, and Soroka has gained respect for their daily grind. “Chip and Jeff are up there, and they’ve constantly got to do their homework, they’ve got to find new things to talk about,” he said.

Last season, Soroka joined the pair as a guest analyst for a game versus the Yankees. “I think I was most nervous, honestly, because I had never really sat there and talked on both sides of every inning,” he said. He knew Bally wanted him for his pitching analysis, but he had to provide it for both sides. He knew anything and everything about the Braves’ arms and their arsenals, but said he “winged it” for the Yankees.

Soroka is a big leaguer, someone who understands the game’s ins and outs because he plays it. That’s his job. But here’s a challenge: Most casual fans don’t understand the sport like he does, which means he had to make his analysis easy to digest.

He said he found it important to know what he was going to say before he would say it. Think it first, then spit it out.

“The other part that I found out pretty quick is that if you’re too long-winded, you’re going to get interrupted by a play, and you’ve got to catch up to where you were,” Soroka said. “I think it’s just about making your thought known to yourself first, and then just, ‘All right, here we go, let’s go.’ And then keep it concise.”

Soroka, who re-tore his right Achilles tendon in June, still expects to return at some point right after the All-Star break. The righty ran in a straight line in the outfield Wednesday at Truist Park, and he said he’s beginning to do some exercises in which he changes directions, which he said symbolizes his entrance into the final few stages of the athletic progression.

“That’s kind of getting back to being an athlete again,” he said.

He said he has been throwing full-pitch bullpen sessions for the past week or two, and he completed his most recent one Tuesday. His throwing progression, as anyone does, began with only fastballs and change-ups before he mixed in breaking balls.

Soroka expects to head to Florida soon for pitchers’ fielding practice, taking ground balls and more. He said everything is going well and “it’s about staying the course right now.”

The Braves’ plan is for him to be a starting pitcher. He said he’s hoping to pitch around 60 innings through the end of the regular season. He and the team wanted to make sure he stayed under 100 innings this season.

“Hopefully get a good lead up, and (hopefully) this team is fighting for a World Series again at some point (and) that adds on to the inning tally at the end of the year,” Soroka said.

For now, he’s focused on becoming an athlete again. He suffered two tears of his Achilles tendon in the span of a year and said there is a mental aspect to overcoming all of this.

“The nice part is, the reality is I don’t have to do anything incredible athletically on the mound,” Soroka said. “I’m not dunking off my right foot – which I should be able to do again at some point, but I don’t have to. So those are those little things where we’re going to get it strong, we’re going to get it extremely stable, get it feeling better than it did before. I think just getting out here, getting that done, feeling that athleticism again, that way you can get rid of it. It’s just reps.”

Soroka has found silver linings in his unfortunate situation. One of them: He believes that if all goes as planned, he’ll have saved two years on his arm. He’s talked to 38-year-old Charlie Morton, the perfect example of this, about it.

“That’s the goal,” Soroka said. “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.”

And because he hopes his career is far from over, he doesn’t know if he’d like to pursue broadcasting after baseball.

“I think at the moment, it was just kind of something to keep me into it, something to kind of bring something exciting to where I was at the time,” Soroka said. “At the time, I was almost a year post my initial (tear), and I was almost two months into my new Achilles again. I think, then, it was just getting something into baseball. It was something I was interested in.

“But it’ll be a decision for later. I don’t plan to have to make that decision for a long time. Hopefully get a chance to play in this game for a long time and make every day count and learn as much as I can. That’s kind of been the one bright point along the last two years, is I’ve had some time to work on some other things, learn some other things, and I think those things will show when I’m back.”