For the first time since suffering an incredibly unfortunate injury to his right Achilles tendon last season, Mike Soroka made his spring training debut on the final day of the 2021 Grapefruit League season.
Mike Soroka entered the game in the sixth inning (of a seventh inning game) and for the first three pitches, he looked like he had never been on the shelf to begin with. Soroka struck out Jeter Downs on three pitches to kick off his stint, and then later on in the frame he sat down Chris Hermann on strikes to end the inning. While Soroka did manage to squeeze in a walk between those two strikeouts and also surrendered a home run in his second inning, his performance today is still just about exactly what you would want to see out of the 23-year-old hurler making his competitive return to the mound for the first time since early August.
Soroka’s comeback happened after the Braves had put four runs on the board at that point in the game. Three of those runs came from Ozzie Albies, who capped off his Grapefruit League season with his third homer of spring training. It was an absolute bullet as well, as he put a charge into one that just kept rising and rising and would’ve kept on going had it not hit a fan on its way over the Fort Myers version of the Green Monster.
Additionally, Cristian Pache was all over the place at JetBlue Park — in a good way. Pache made it on base three times and made it back home twice. One of those hits was a run-scoring double that put the Braves on the board in the second inning. It was actually a well-executed hit-and-run play, as Pache got the hit and Austin Riley did the running from first base and was rounding third base by the time Alex Verdugo had managed to collect the ball. Pache also continued to display some nifty defense in center field and he even had a moment where he showed off his arm strength on a throw aimed at home plate. The Red Sox have gotten smart and figured out it’s not a good idea to run on Pache, who unleashed a cannon towards home after catching a fly ball.
Cristian Pache makes a great catch on an awkward liner. pic.twitter.com/zT8f1NT52b— Baseball GIFs (@gifs_baseball) March 30, 2021
The second time that Pache scored a run came in the seventh inning, as he crossed home plate following an RBI double from William Contreras. While Contreras may not have made the team coming out of spring training, he’s definitely going to be one to keep an eye on going forward. He’ll definitely benefit from some more experience at the minor league level and it’s pretty safe to say that he’ll be the first man up if things go sideways for the catchers who did make the big league squad coming out of camp.
Even though Soroka did give up a home run in the seventh inning, it still wasn’t enough for the Red Sox to come back and win the game. The Braves came out on top 5-3 and finished their Grapefruit League season with a 15-13 record. Of course, nobody really cares about your spring training record — especially when Opening Day is now just two days away. The weather in Philadelphia on Thursday afternoon may end up being frightful, but having the regular season start in April instead of late July is going to be so delightful. The Braves have done everything they can to get ready for the regular season, and now it’s time to get this thing rolling once again.