ATLANTA — Atlanta Braves pitcher Mike Soroka has experienced a setback in his recovery from surgery to repair his torn right Achilles' tendon, and the 23-year-old right-hander will have a follow-up procedure next week.
Soroka was the opening day starter for the Braves during the pandemic-delayed 2020 MLB season that didn't begin until late July. Just 10 days later and in his third start of the year, his season was over when he injured his Achilles' against the New York Mets on Aug. 3.
He has not pitched in a regular-season game this year. Earlier this spring, shoulder inflammation curtailed his work to get ready for a return to the mound, leading the Braves to shut down that process temporarily. Now the Achilles' trouble has flared up again, and plans for him to pitch this season are in doubt.
Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said Wednesday that Soroka will have exploratory surgery early next week in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
"I hate it for the kid," Snitker said. "He's worked so hard to come back. I hate it for him personally to have this setback."
Soroka emerged as one of the foundations of the Atlanta rotation in 2019, when he went 13-4 with a 2.68 ERA. The Canadian earned a spot in the MLB All-Star Game, finished second in balloting for the National League's top rookie and was sixth among vote recipients for the Cy Young Award.
Even without Soroka, the Braves won a third consecutive NL East Division title and advanced to the NL Championship Series last season, coming within a victory of reaching the World Series for the first time in two decades. Two other young pitchers, Ian Anderson and Max Fried, helped lead the rotation in his absence.
The Braves signed veterans Charlie Morton and Drew Smyly in the offseason, and right-hander Huascar Ynoa has emerged with his 4-1 record as a surprise force in the rotation. Fried started on opening day last month.
Snitker said a strong start by Bryse Wilson in Tuesday night's 5-3 home loss in the opener of a three-game series with the Toronto Blue Jays was an encouraging sign for the team's pitching depth. Wilson allowed two runs in six innings after his recall from Triple-A Gwinnett, but he was optioned to Gwinnett on Wednesday as right-handed reliever Chris Martin was activated from the 10-day injured list.
Martin said Soroka's setback was "obviously a huge loss."
"Hopefully he gets better and he can get back as soon as possible," Martin said.
Snitker said no single incident led Soroka to seek a medical opinion on his recovery.
"There was something that wasn't right," the manager said. "He could tell."