Soroka upbeat in rehab from Achilles tear

August 26th, 2020

ATLANTA -- Mike Soroka will conclude his four-month rehab around the end of this calendar year. Once January arrives, the Braves ace will have a better feel for when he might be ready to return from his torn right Achilles tendon.

“I’m hoping to be pushing our [medical] staff,” Soroka said. “I know they’re going to want to hold me back and make sure everything is done. But I’m hoping to be feeling good enough at the four- or five-month period where I’m kind of pushing the envelope and I know I will.”

Soroka tore his Achilles tendon as he attempted to come off the mound to cover first base against the Mets on Aug. 3. The 23-year-old right-hander underwent surgery a few days later and has spent the past few weeks recovering in Atlanta. He will remain in a cast for at least another week. But he still has been coming to Truist Park on a daily basis for treatment.

“When I went down, I kind of knew what had happened,” Soroka said. “I’ve pulled enough muscles to know it wasn’t muscle related. I heard it [pop] too. So, that didn’t help. That’s why I didn’t waste any time on the field. As soon as they came out there, I just said, ‘Let’s go.’”

Soroka has spoken to Adam Wainwright, who tore his left Achilles tendon in April of 2015 and returned to pitch out of St. Louis’ bullpen at the very end of the season. The Braves hurler also plans to talk to Yankees left-handed reliever Zack Britton, who needed six months to recover after tearing his right Achilles tendon after the 2017 season.

Britton and Wainwright were able to return to relief roles five-to-six months after injuring the Achilles tendon on their landing legs. Soroka is obviously aiming to return as a starter after recovering from an injury to his push leg.

So, if recovering in five months is viewed as the short end of recovery for a relief role, then it could be said a starter’s best hopes would be closer to six months, which would put Soroka on course to be ready within the first few weeks of the 2021 season.

But with so many unknown variables at this point, Soroka and the Braves will likely not set a timetable until January.

“Everybody wants to be on the short end of their rehab,” Soroka said. “Nobody wants to take longer. But if it takes longer, we’re going to make sure we do it right.”

As Soroka produced the National League’s third-best ERA (2.68) and finished second in the National League Rookie of the Year balloting in 2019, the baseball world gained an appreciation for his cerebral approach. So, it probably shouldn’t be surprising to learn he’s already determined how this injury might actually improve his mechanics.

“I’m a little more quad dominant with my push leg, which means my knee falls over my front toe a little bit, creating a little more range of motion there,” Soroka said. “It’s probably something I look at with my mechanics and it’s something I probably should have fixed a while ago. It’s not even about the Achilles. It’s about loading my back hip, as so many have talked about with pitching mechanics.

“It might be an opportunity to correct that little flaw. Who knows? It might help me.”