Mike Soroka looking to prove himself in his first season with the Chicago White Sox

Thu, Feb 15, 2024
MLB News (AP)

Mike Soroka looking to prove himself in his first season with the Chicago White Sox

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) - Mike Soroka looks around the Chicago White Sox spring training clubhouse and sees a lot of players in a similar position to himself: people looking to prove something.

"There's a lot of guys in this clubhouse that are fighting for careers," Soroka said Thursday. "I think there's a lot of guys that think they have a lot more to give to this game. You know, that's what makes a gritty team, and I'm excited to be a part of that."

Soroka is embracing a fresh start after he came over in a trade with Atlanta in November. The White Sox acquired the 26-year-old right-hander as part of a five-player package for lefty reliever Aaron Bummer.

General manager Chris Getz said Soroka was an integral part of his discussions with the Braves.

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"At times he was (on) the outside looking in because of how deep they were and to be able to capture him potentially on an upswing back to be a productive major league player, it seemed like the right move to have him part of that deal," Getz said.

It once looked as if Soroka would be a part of the Braves' rotation for years. But his once-promising career has been derailed by a series of injuries.

"The last couple of years have been difficult getting back into it," Soroka said. "Having some success so early on, you want to do it year in and year out. And then obviously what happened took three years out of my career, but I'm trying to get that on the back end now."

The 6-foot-5 Soroka, who is from Calgary, Alberta, was a breakout star with Atlanta in 2019. The former first-round pick went 13-4 with a 2.68 ERA in 29 starts, helping the Braves win the NL East. He was the runner-up to Pete Alonso for NL Rookie of the Year.

Then injuries started to pile up.

He tore his right Achilles tendon during a routine fielding play in his third start of the pandemic-delayed 2020 season. After he had another procedure to address complications and made his way through nine months of rehab, he blew out his tendon again while walking into Truist Park - right after a protective boot had been removed.

"It definitely puts into perspective that this isn't forever," Soroka said. "When you get drafted at (age) 17 and your first few years in the minor leagues kind of roll by, you feel like you're going to be in this game forever, and that's just not the case. It definitely puts that in perspective a little bit."

Soroka played for Triple-A Gwinnett for most of last season, going 4-4 with a 3.41 ERA in 17 starts. He made six starts and one relief appearance for Atlanta, going 2-2 with a 6.40 ERA.

He finished the year on the injured list because of forearm inflammation, but he said he feels good heading into his first camp with the White Sox.

"This guy was one of the better pitchers in the game a few years back, and he suffered some tough injuries," Chicago manager Pedro Grifol said. "So the toughness is there, because he's back and he's strong and he's ready to go."

Soroka felt as if he was starting to regain his form at the end of last season. He went 1-1 with a 2.77 ERA in five minor league starts in August, but he was tagged for five runs in three innings against St. Louis in his final appearance with Atlanta on Sept. 5.

His time with the Braves was marked by almost constant team success, while the White Sox lost 101 games last year. It looks as if Chicago might be headed for another tough season, but Soroka is optimistic.

"I think there's a group of people over here that know this division is wide open and we can go take that," he said. "That's always going to be the plan: Put the best foot forward and go compete."

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