ATLANTA -- Maybe he is hiding his true feelings or simply further proving he is one of the friendliest individuals this world has ever known. But Mike Soroka says “angry” would not be an accurate way to describe what he was feeling when he tore his right Achilles tendon for the second time in less than a year.
“Immediately, you look for reasons as to why that could have happened,” Soroka said. “I feel like the anger would have been somewhere else if there’s blame to be put anywhere, and there’s not. There’s no sense being angry at something [you can’t change].”
Nearly two months later, Soroka still can’t explain why he again tore his Achilles while simply walking toward the Braves' clubhouse in Truist Park on June 24, the day after the walking boot he had used for a month after undergoing exploratory surgery a month earlier was removed. That procedure was necessitated because the Braves pitcher was still feeling discomfort nine months after first having his right Achilles tendon surgically repaired.
“Nobody had ever really seen that happen that far in a rehab process, especially because we had gotten through so many hurdles,” Soroka said. “I pitched in a Spring Training game. ... It's not like we were fresh in the rehab process.”
As many Braves fans questioned whether Soroka should return to the same surgeon, Soroka opted to stick with Dr. Robert Anderson, who is regarded as one of the world’s top Achilles experts.
Knowing the sutures didn’t take during the first surgery, Anderson opted to use a different type of suture, so he weaved a hamstring graft into the Achilles during the second repair. The sutures currently around Soroka’s ankle are absorbable and thicker than the ones used after he first tore his right Achilles on Aug. 3, 2020.
“There wasn't anything that he would have done differently the first time, or anybody for that matter, it didn't matter,” Soroka said. “Anytime you go in and you repair something, it's never a sure thing. And sometimes weird things happen.”
As Soroka has spent the past couple months healing, he has enjoyed some time with his father both in Atlanta and in their native Canada. He remains very appreciative of the phone call he received from Braves president of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos, who wanted the young hurler to know the club remained confident in his ability to overcome the challenges he’ll face in his attempt to pitch again.
Whether Soroka will pitch again remains to be seen, and it’s even harder to predict whether he’ll ever pitch to the tremendous capabilities he showed in 2019, when he ranked fifth in the Majors with a 2.68 ERA and finished second in the National League Rookie of the Year Award voting.
But Soroka is determined to overcome the significant odds and rejoin the Braves' rotation at some point next summer.
“This time around, we're going to master every step of the strengthening process, and really not worry about getting off the mat and pitching until I'm comfortable just being an athlete again,” Soroka said. “I don’t think it will take long. But it will be a matter of getting to that point and building up to be a pitcher again.”