ATLANTA – Mike soroka He has already gone through nine grueling months of rehab, after bursting his right Achilles tendon.
Now he’s doing it all over again.
The burgeoning Atlanta Braves star spoke Monday for the first time since receiving shocking news that his Achilles tendon was torn again and would need another major operation.
“This process is something I don’t wish on anyone,” said Soroka, who was sitting with the Braves broadcast team for a game against the New York Yankees. “But I know I will be stronger with that. I am looking forward to the day when I can look back and draw strength from this whole process.”
Soroka, who made the All-Star Game as a rookie in 2019, has not pitched since the initial injury after three starts in the 2020 season delayed by the pandemic.
He had hoped to be ready to return earlier this season, even pitching in a game late in spring training, only to suffer a setback in his recovery that required another surgical procedure.
Then, while walking to the clubhouse at Truist Park in May, shortly after a protective boot had been removed from her leg, Soroka completely tore her tendon a second time.
“He wasn’t even really ‘walking’ walking yet,” Soroka recalled. “I was limping, putting some pressure under the ground and lifting my heel. About 10 feet away from the front door here on Truist, it made a ‘bang’. I don’t think any of us did. “
Now, Soroka won’t be returning to the Braves until 2022, at the earliest.
“No one had ever seen this happen that far in the rehab process,” he said. “We had overcome so many obstacles. I pitched in a spring training game. It’s not like we’re fresh in the rehab process.”
“It blew me away,” Soroka added. “That moment was without a doubt one of the hardest moments of my life.”
While the prognosis for a full recovery is generally not as favorable for those who re-tear their Achilles tendon, Soroka said doctors took extra steps in the second surgery to strengthen the area.
They drew part of a hamstring into the tendon to give it extra stability and used old-fashioned sutures, which are slightly thicker than what is normally used, to further strengthen the leg.
“It’s never a sure thing. Strange things happen sometimes,” Soroka said. “If anything, it will be stronger than ever. That will be the goal at least.”
At just 24 years old, Soroka was expected to lead a young Braves rotation after going 13-4 with a 2.68 ERA in his first full year in the majors. In addition to being in the All-Star Game, he finished second in the National League Rookie of the Year voting and sixth for the Cy Young Award.
This ordeal certainly shook his confidence.
“You go through a rehab process for nine months and it essentially doesn’t work, you feel like you failed,” Soroka said. “He immediately goes back to, ‘What could I have done differently?’ and ‘What did I do wrong?’ But you find that maybe you didn’t do anything wrong. You just couldn’t change it. “
He admitted that it was difficult to deal with having nothing to show for the lengthy rehab he went through the first time.
“Somehow physically, you know those last nine months were kind of a waste,” Soroka said. “That’s probably the worst part. By getting over that, I learned a lot about myself.”
While he is now confident of missing the better part of two full years before being able to pitch again, Soroka remains confident of making a full recovery.
“We are making progress every day,” he said. “It was fun to watch.”