Mike Soroka blames shoulder discomfort on ‘overload’

TORONTO, ON - JUNE 19: Mike Soroka #40 of the Atlanta Braves delivers a pitch in the first inning during MLB game action against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on June 19, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

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TORONTO, ON - JUNE 19: Mike Soroka #40 of the Atlanta Braves delivers a pitch in the first inning during MLB game action against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on June 19, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

Braves right-hander Mike Soroka hopes to resume throwing in the next few days after being shut down last week with shoulder discomfort. He's optimistic he'll pitch in games toward the end of spring training, but the parties haven't set a timeline.

Soroka recently informed team trainer George Poulis that he felt shoulder soreness following a side session. The soreness originated during overly strenuous offseason workouts in January, and rather than continuing through it, Soroka and the team elected to give him a break.

The latest issue is unrelated to what he experienced last year, Soroka said. His season ended in June due to shoulder inflammation.

“We’re pretty sure it’s just kind of an overload thing,” Soroka said. “And that’s on me, a lot of it. It’s tough because you want to do everything you can to get yourself as ready as possible for spring training, especially when it’s been on your mind since June.”

Soroka worked assiduously over the past eight months so he’d be full-go for spring training. But after taking time to reset around Christmas, he believes he might’ve overworked himself during his first week back in Florida.

His workout schedule included long toss on Wednesdays, deadlifts on Thursdays and heavy upper-body work on Fridays. He attributed the soreness to a combination of the exercises.

“It’s a learning point,” Soroka said. “Be smarter when you start doing baseball stuff.”

And he felt the smart move here was telling the Braves what he was experiencing, even if that was difficult. Soroka was eager to see his first game action since the summer, and a setback could affect his bid to open the season in the Braves’ rotation.

“One hundred percent (it was difficult telling the team),” Soroka said. “It sucked. I apologized to them for not coming a little sooner. That’s tough. You just don’t know if it’s actually an issue.

“I was throwing through it and it’d loosened up. As athletes in general, not just pitchers, you’re going to feel little things here and there, then they go away as you get warm and get loose. It was progressing, too. So it was one thing that wasn’t going away.”

Any shoulder-related instance with Soroka will be met with more than a grain of salt. After accelerating through the minors without any obstacles, he required two IL stints through 25-2/3 major-league innings. It’s a sigh of relief for the Braves and Soroka his latest scare isn’t tied to last season.

“It’s unfortunate, but the nice part is it’s unrelated to last year,” Soroka said. “It’s completely unrelated, different muscle group. It’s still a muscle in the rotator cuff but it’s not what I was dealing with last year.”

However brief until Soroka rejoins the routine, it was an unlucky circumstance after his rookie year ended prematurely. It removes him from the fifth starter competition, for which he and Touki Toussaint were favored entering the spring.

If Soroka returns accordingly, he should still see the majors sooner than later, especially with the Braves likely re-implementing last season’s turnstile back-of-the-rotation strategy.

“It’s a problem we wanted to deal with now rather than have it be an actual problem in April,” Soroka said. “It won’t really derail anything. I might have to start with a week of catch and move forward with bullpens. I can’t give any timelines because we didn’t discuss that, but that’s my hope. To be ready for games before the end of spring training.”