Mike Soroka Q&A: On increased responsibility, learning from Cole Hamels

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Mike Soroka’s rookie season was among best in Braves history

Braves break-out All-Star starter Mike Soroka spoke with local media at Saturday's Chop Fest, his first time speaking with the media since the day after the team was eliminated from the postseason.

Here are some of the topics Soroka covered:

Q: Did you alter your workouts this winter after what happened (injury) before last season?

A: That was all on me, mainly because a lot of it was around wanting to come back gunning 100 percent after I spent the last half of the year on the DL. I wanted to show that not only was I not rusty, but I was better than ever. It started there. It started when I showed up there (in Florida). I was gunning it in bullpens early because I wanted to. That was on me. Gunning it in the weight room, in the bullpens, and it bit me. I wasn't quite ready for that. But luckily that was quick and I'm glad it turned out — it was something different than it was the year before. They were two very different injuries and we knew that one was fixable and I wouldn't have a problem as long as I was smart.

More Braves Q&As

» Cole Hamels
» Ronald Acuna
» Freddie Freeman
» Read the entire series

Q: When you look back on the playoffs, people questioned the team giving you only one start. Do you understand the team’s thinking?

A: Yeah, 100 percent. And I understand the questions. Anytime something doesn't go right, there are questions asked about everything. That wasn't the only one. For me, it was a thing where we really did have a great rotation. The amount that I learned from watching Dallas (Keuchel) go out there in Game 1 after all the flyovers, the fireworks, the big deals. It was my first postseason experience. Watching Dallas go out there and not necessarily have his best stuff, but be calm, in control, and put up — I believe he got taken out in the fifth inning — but he didn't give in.

The amount I learned from him in that first game, and the amount I fed off Folty’s (Mike Foltynewicz’s) success in Game 2 — even if you asked him, that was one of the best games of his life — being able to duplicate that in Game 3 was huge for me. And I think that was part of our talks with them. That I’d be able to learn and feed off the two guys before me. Sometimes things just don’t work out.

Q: Do you feel like you’re the anchor of this staff?

A: I don't know that taking that on as a responsibility is exactly what I'd call it. That's just putting titles and pressure on things that aren't necessary. I do think this is a staff when, if we all come to compete and we're all healthy, we could be a staff with three or four guys you could consider an 'ace' or main guy. I understand that (conversation) is fun. I got to do that in Rome, in Mississippi, when there was a bunch of us that nobody knew and it's like 'This guy is the best on the staff.' It just didn't matter cause we were going out there competing. There are little things I want to do and it's still geared around being better. It's not about replicating what I did last year, but it's about being a more complete pitcher. Throwing harder, deeper in games, being more dominant, having better stuff more consistently; if that translates to numbers, great. But for me it's about continuing attitude and still building off what I did last year.

Q: How much are you looking forward to learning from a veteran guy like Cole Hamels?

A: I'm really excited about Cole being here. I just got to meet him yesterday in the weight room actually. He was smiling and getting ready to work. I've heard nothing but amazing things about him. The guy is still, I mean, you could say he was at the top of his game a few years ago, but he's an incredible pitcher. I saw some things he did down the stretch and how exciting that was to watch, and I really think that the amount we'll learn, not just from talking to him, but watching him as well. He's been through everything in this game and you can tell there's a lot of knowledge there that we'll suck up like sponges like we always have. I know he's excited to (work with us) as well.