Erstwhile Atlanta Braves ace Mike Soroka, who has not appeared in an MLB game since 2020, is nearing a minor-league rehab assignment as he works his way back from a twice-torn right Achilles tendon, manager Brian Snitker said Monday. "He's getting close," Snitker said, according to 92.9 The Game.
Soroka, who is still only 24, initially tore his Achilles covering first base on Aug. 3, 2020, and needed season-ending surgery. Then, in June 2021, Soroka tore the Achilles again -- he "" as he walked to the clubhouse -- and required a second surgery. Soroka was nearing a minor-league rehab assignment at the time and the Braves were hopeful he could return in August.
Now roughly a full calendar year removed from his second Achilles surgery, Soroka has already resumed facing hitters, including throwing a multi-inning live batting practice session at the team's spring training complex Saturday. Snitker made it clear there is no firm timetable for Soroka to pitch in a minor-league game, just that it is close to becoming a reality.
Whenever Soroka begins a minor league rehab assignment, it will begin a 30-day rehab clock. Soroka could be activated any time during the 30 days, but barring a setback, he can be activated no later than 30 days following his first rehab game. Atlanta will make sure the 30 days is enough time to get back to MLB readiness before starting that rehab clock.
The Braves currently have a full rotation featuring Max Fried, Charlie Morton, Kyle Wright, Spencer Strider, and Ian Anderson. Anderson has struggled this year though, and the team will have to monitor the rookie Strider's workload. Also, Morton is 38 and not pushing him too hard would be smart. When the time comes, finding innings for Soroka won't be difficult.
Soroka, the 2019 NL Rookie of the Year runner-up to Pete Alonso, threw 174 2/3 innings with a 2.68 ERA that season. That was the year MLB and Soroka, with his heavy sinker, led qualified pitchers with a 0.72 HR/9. He has a career 2.86 ERA in 37 starts and 214 innings spanning 2018-20.
The defending World Series champs entered Monday with a 42-34 record. They are 23-7 since June 1 and have whittled their NL East deficit from 10 1/2 games to 3 1/2 games. Atlanta and the first-place New York Mets still have 15 head-to-head games remaining this season.