The Braves have been cautious with Michael Soroka this spring as he attempts to return from nearly a three-year hiatus in the majors, and a balky left hamstring early in camp has slowed his recovery. On Saturday, Soroka was able to return to the mound for a “shortbox” bullpen session, per manager Brian Snitker (via Justin Toscano of the AJC).
It is a near certainty Soroka will not be ready in time for opening day in Atlanta, and it seems more likely than not that his first start(s) this season will come in Gwinnett as he continues to rebuild strength. With the first achilles injury coming early in the shortened 2020 campaign, the last time Michael has thrown regular innings in the majors was fall 2019. That feels like an eternity ago.
All eyes this spring are on the battle for the Braves’ 5th rotation spot. Ian Anderson came into camp as the odds-on favorite but did not fare well in his first appearance. Bryce Elder threw important innings for the club down the stretch last season as Atlanta won the NL East for the fifth year in a row, but it’s fair to ask if he can manage the rigors of a full season with sub-par secondary stuff. Kolby Allard is in the mix as well from the left side.
Regardless of who fills the 5th spot in early April, the Braves will continue to bring Soroka along slowly with hopes of a full recovery at some point. It goes without saying the Braves are in far better shape if Michael can return to anything close to his old form this summer.