Shoulder concerning, but Soroka optimistic

Pitcher says it's unrelated to previous injury

February 25th, 2019

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Though the area of discomfort is different, admits he’s concerned that he’s once again dealing with muscle-related shoulder discomfort.

“I’d be lying if I said it isn’t [concerning], but at a certain extent you’ve got to look at it and understand little things will happen and the fact this is unrelated to what happened last year means there’s nothing corrective that needs to happen like last year,” Soroka said. “I just need to be a little smarter.”

Given Soroka could be cleared to resume throwing exercises within the next few days, there’s certainly no reason to be overly worried about the right trapezius strain that led to him being shut down last week. This ailment seems to be far less significant than the right scapula-related issue that forced him to miss most of last season’s final five months.

But it’s still not comforting to be a 21-year-old hurler who has had to deal with both of these issues within a nine-month span that included a long period of rest.

“It still stinks because you’re dealing with something you probably could have prevented,” Soroka said. “That’s the worst part.”

Soroka arrived at Spring Training confident he could continue to pitch through the discomfort he has felt since straining his trapezius muscle while lifting weights in late January. His side sessions created no reason for concern. But the ailment lingered to the point where the Canadian hurler exited a side session feeling he had no choice but to inform the Braves of what he was feeling.

“You’re going to feel different things that you’re going to write off and then they’re gone in the next day or so anyway,” Soroka said. “The hope was it was progressing well, but then it got to the point where I didn’t think it was going anywhere on its own.”

If all goes well, Soroka will begin throwing again this week and possibly begin pitching in exhibition games by the end of the month. But this latest setback erases the possibility of him being on the Opening Day roster and figuring into the early-season mix of young Atlanta hurlers expected to share the rotation’s fifth spot on a rotating basis.

Touki Toussaint, Max Fried, Bryse Wilson and Kyle Wright are among the other highly regarded pitching prospects who would be capable of filling a spot within Atlanta’s rotation during the early part of the upcoming season. Fried allowed one hit and one unearned run while walking one and striking out one over two innings in his first outing of the spring on Monday. The Braves topped the Nationals, 9-4.

MLB Pipeline ranks Soroka as the game’s No. 24 prospect and the top prospect within Atlanta’s talent-rich system. He displayed his potential as he completed six strong innings during his May 1 MLB debut at Citi Field. Two starts later, he began a month-long injured-list stint that ended with him limiting the Mets to one hit over 6 1/3 innings on June 13. One week later, he was back on the injured list, where he would rest for the remainder of the season.

Multiple MRI exams performed last year showed no structural damage and this latest ailment may prove to be an afterthought following a short period of rest. But there’s still reason for Soroka to be frustrated about the fact he is once again dealing with another nagging ailment.

“It was likely an overload from lifting and throwing,” Soroka said. “It’s really not a concern for me to keep [the discomfort] out of there because I’m being smart in the weight room now. I’m trying not to do too much in there and just let everything play out on the field.”