Michael Soroka will make his first start for Triple-A Gwinnett on Tuesday at Norfolk. Soroka is continuing his path back to the majors after injuries have prevented him from appearing in an MLB game since 2020.
“Obviously, the big goal is to get back up there (to the Braves) and help that team,” Soroka said Friday.
Soroka, 25, was an All-Star starter for the Braves in 2019. He appeared to be the franchise’s long-sought ace before tearing his Achilles early in the truncated 2020 campaign. He hasn’t returned to the majors since, undergoing three Achilles surgeries.
The Canadian righty returned to the mound last summer in the minors, appearing in six games (25 innings) before he was shut down with right-elbow soreness. Soroka entered the spring hoping to compete for a rotation spot, but a strained hamstring quickly ended that bid. He appeared in one exhibition game (and another in minor-league camp) and began the season with Triple-A Gwinnett, which played its opener Friday.
Soroka will work as a starter and reliever in Triple-A. He and the team agreed to be careful with his volume, feeling it’d be safest to slowly build him up, especially so he wouldn’t experience extreme fatigue later in the season given how little he’s pitched over the past three seasons.
“I think we’re still going to be limited to about three or four innings for a little bit,” he said. “Which we all talked about and agreed it’d be a great plan to keep me in a position where I’m able to get out, get good work, get good work between outings, really start to feel things out again and get back to being me.
“I think the conversation will be had whether we make starts, throw in the ‘pen a couple times, and we’ll go back and forth here until it’s time to start ramping up some volume and we’ll take it from there.”
Soroka elaborated on the possibility that he’ll log some innings as a reliever.
“We’re just going to try some things,” he said. “I think we may as well. I don’t know the specifics of it, but we’ll probably stick to around three or four-inning outings for a little bit. I don’t know if that means two or three weeks, or six or eight weeks. I don’t know. But I know the option is there. So if it’s needed, I told them, ‘Look, I want to be in the big leagues and help whatever I can.’ But they all agreed that getting me to be the eighth man in the bullpen right now is not the best thing for development. You’re going to end up in a position where you don’t pitch for eight or nine days. You can’t really work on things that day because you have to be (ready) that night.
“So I think, like I said, if it comes to a point I can help up there, and it lines up, I have no problems with that. So we’ll see where that goes. If it means coming in for long relief, or closing a game, I’m all in.”
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