Soroka shut down with shoulder discomfort

Braves prospect could be cleared next week after experiencing soreness in camp

February 22nd, 2019

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Less than a week into Spring Training, the Braves once again have reason to be concerned about Mike Soroka’s right shoulder. Manager Brian Snitker said Soroka was shut down after reporting right shoulder discomfort upon completing a side session earlier this week. The highly regarded 21-year-old prospect could be cleared to begin throwing again next week.

But given the fact that right shoulder discomfort forced Soroka to miss the final three months of last season, there is now reason to worry about the hurler, whom MLB Pipeline ranks as the baseball’s 24th-best prospect.

“I think he’ll be fine,” Snitker said. “Everything checks out fine. His strength is fine. Nothing is wrong. It’s just some tendinitis that probably barked up. When that happens, it’s best to shut them down a little bit and keep doing the exercises. Then, we’ll get him going.”

So Soroka will now follow a plan more like the one Snitker projected a month ago, when he said the club was going to take a cautious approach with the pitcher during the early portion of Spring Training. Snitker and pitching coach Rick Kranitz altered that plan last week, when they said Soroka would not have any restrictions because he had completed six pain-free bullpen sessions before the Braves began camp.

But at the time, Soroka had not told the team about discomfort he felt while lifting weights approximately a month ago. He didn’t reveal that until feeling discomfort during his side session earlier this week.

“They’re just going to slow play him now,” Snitker said. “You know how they do it -- if something gets tweaked, there are boxes to check and you have to go through the timeline. But I think, a week from now, he’ll be back out there throwing sides and getting ready to pitch in games.”

The Braves’ medical staff was satisfied by the results of strength tests performed this week and it does not appear another MRI exam will be needed.

Even if a week’s worth of rest proves to be sufficient for Soroka, he will not have enough time this spring to compete for Atlanta’s Opening Day roster. The Canadian right-hander and Touki Toussaint were the top candidates for the fifth spot in Atlanta’s rotation.

“I’m glad he said something, because I guarantee you, if he wouldn’t have said anything and he went out there [to pitch], we wouldn’t have known anything was wrong because of the way he was going to throw,” Snitker said. “But because he did say something, [trainer George Poulis] did all the tests on him and calmed down the tendinitis or whatever it is. That’s the right thing to do this time of year.”

Soroka completed six strong innings during his May 1 Major League debut last year, but made just two more starts before landing on the disabled list. He returned to produce another strong outing against the Mets on June 13. But one start later, he was back on the disabled list, where he would remain for the rest of the season.

Multiple MRI exams showed no structural damage. Soroka said his discomfort was related to muscles attached to his scapula.

“He’s going to be behind everybody else, but with that being said, I think he should be good to go by the time Spring Training ends and then be able to get back in the swing of things,” Snitker said.