The Braves have temporarily shut down right-hander Mike Soroka after he experienced shoulder discomfort throwing earlier this week. Soroka, whose season ended in June last year because of shoulder inflammation, had aggravated the pain while lifting weights last month.
His discomfort re-emerged after his latest side throwing session. Soroka informed the team and was tested by team trainer George Poulis. The Braves opted to shelf him, hoping that would calm the pain.
Manager Brian Snitker stressed it isn’t an immense concern, but the team wanted to be cautious with its prized 21-year-old.
“He’d thrown six sides in his whole process down here (in Florida),” Snitker said. “Evidently, he tweaked something. We didn’t know how bad or anything, but it was good enough to watch him a little bit. But (the initial tweak) was when he was lifting, not throwing. It was one of those things where he was throwing and it’d loosen up, then he’d be OK – that’s the reason I think he kept throwing.
“I think he was feeling it after his last side. The next day, he decided to say something instead of trying to do whatever to get loose and continue to throw sides.”
The Braves expect Soroka to resume throwing in four or five days. As Snitker put it, “A week from now, I’m sure he’ll be back out there throwing sides and getting ready to pitch in a game.”
Soroka’s month-ago tweak could’ve occurred while doing some form of the “follow through jump out” exercise, which is intended to help pitchers throw harder, based on vague details of the workout provided by Snitker.
When pitchers and catchers reported a week ago, Snitker and pitching coach Rick Kranitz said Soroka wouldn’t have any restrictions. He already had been in Florida working out since January.
It’s a discouraging start for Soroka, who spent the offseason trying to get healthy and readying for a larger role with the club. He produced a 3.51 ERA and struck out 21 across five starts (25-2/3 innings) in 2018.
“I think it was just some tendinitis that barked up,” Snitker said. “So when you get that it’s better to just shut it down for a little bit and keep doing the exercises. … I’m glad he said something. I guarantee if he wouldn’t have said something we wouldn’t know anything was wrong.”
Soroka wasn’t placed on the injured list in his minor-league career. He required two stints on the IL through just five big-league starts. The Braves were already approaching him with caution this spring, and while Snitker said the latest setback isn’t serious, they’d rather sideline him now rather than have him work through it only to try playing catch up all season.
“He’s going to be behind everyone else,” Snitker said. “But that being said, he should be good to go by the time spring training ends and (then) get back in the swing of things.”
The setback likely ends Soroka’s bid for the fifth starter spot, though the team’s cautious approach indicated that was already a longer shot. Touki Toussaint, Max Fried and Luiz Gohara remain the most logical candidates for the lone rotation vacancy.
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