The Second Debut


1,029 days.

In a way, Calgary’s Michael Soroka says it felt like it had been that long since he last stood on top of a Major League Baseball mound.

In another, he feels it was actually a little longer since he experienced the feeling in the pit of his stomach that he went through on May 29th as he returned to the Atlanta Braves lineup against the Oakland Athletics.

The usually even-keel Albertan admits the adrenaline was going a bit as he finally conquered an injury-filled few years.

“To be honest with you, we could even go back to 2019 because there was no one in the stands in 2020, so it didn’t even feel like big league baseball that year,” Soroka told reporters after his six-inning performance.

“When we go back that far, yeah, it’s been a whirlwind and I’m excited to put that storyline behind us now and get back to putting up zeroes.”

He did his best to accomplish that goal in what was like a second debut, as he put up five zeroes during the outing. The only blemish was a four-run fifth inning which included a three-run home run off the bat of first baseman Ryan Noda.

While he was tagged with the loss in a 7-2 defeat, Soroka was happy overall with his performance, especially after the rocky inning.

“Getting those outs and having the confidence to go back out there and do it again in the sixth was nice,” he said. “That’s what I took pride in coming up always, was that you’re going to scuffle, you’re going to have a tough inning here and there, and you have to be able to reset and put up another zero.”


It has been a well-documented journey for Soroka to get back onto an MLB bump.

After bursting onto the scene in 2019 by posting a 13-4 record with a 2.68 earned-run average in 29 starts and being named an MLB All-Star and Rookie of the Year finalist, hopes were high for the Calgary Redbirds alum heading into the next year.

However, he tore his Achilles tendon fielding a groundball against the New York Mets in August 2020, requiring surgery.

While walking to the clubhouse the following year, Soroka completely re-tore the same tendon, ending his 2021 season and delaying the start of his 2022 campaign.

While he did return in 2022 for starts in High-A and Triple-A, the 25-year-old wasn’t able to get to the Braves as he ended the year on the injured list with elbow soreness.

Soroka later admitted it was more precautionary, as he wanted to go into the off-season with a fresh slate and to make it feel like a “real off-season.”

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He started the 2023 season with the Triple-A Gwinnett Stripers, going 1-2 with a 4.33 ERA in eight starts, each time garnering more attention for the potential of a call-up.

While Soroka and the Braves were hoping to ease him back in, injuries to the starting rotation made it difficult to avoid getting him back up to the big leagues.


When Soroka’s scheduled start with Gwinnett on May 28th was scratched, the stage was set for the call-up.

Fans, coaches and teammates were excited to finally see the Canadian’s patience and hard work pay off.

Not only did he go through the usual rigours of rehabilitation, but Soroka says he enlisted the help of Bio-Kinetics 3D Research & Development, a state-of-the-art training facility in Utah, to work on his pitching mechanics so he wouldn’t reinjure his leg again.

“To go through everything he’s been through and now to get back is really a feather in that kid’s cap,” said Braves manager Brian Snitker prior to the game. “I’ve got a lot of respect for how he went about it.”

After his six-inning performance, Soroka’s teammates were impressed with how it was just like old times.

Travis d’Arnaud caught Soroka’s last outing in 2020, and says it was devastating to see the young phenom in so much agony, and great to see him back.

“It shows how strong he was mentally, to go this long and still have the drive to want to be successful and go back and still be able to pitch in the big leagues,” said the veteran backstop, who was on the bench for the game. “I’m just so happy for him.”

Catching Soroka in his return was veteran Sean Murphy, who also drove in one of the two runs in the loss.

“At the end of the day, that was awesome for him,” he said. “I hope he’s happy with that – he can build off that.”


Monday was a big day for Soroka, but he knows there is still a lot of work to go to make sure he is on the bump every five days.

He admits it has been a rollercoaster for himself as well as his team, staff and fans, as he looks to reclaim the excitement that surrounded him in 2019.

“I always said I was going to be back here for the people who believed in me, not the ones who said I couldn’t.”

“Those people are my dad, the training staff here and a group I work with in Arizona, and a lot of people who have helped me along the way,” said Soroka.

Fittingly, if all goes according to plan, his next start may fall on June 4th against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Soroka received a welcome ovation during his return in Oakland, and it’s likely he will get similar treatment at Chase Field, where many Canadians like to spend their time.

But the real ovation might come when he returns to Truist Park in Atlanta.

“I know it (Oakland) is a taste of what’s to come in Atlanta and I think that’s another day when my emotions will have to be kept behind – to be able to go out there and get some zeroes,” he said. “It’s a pretty special fanbase and I’m pretty lucky to be a part of it.”

Once that start in his home ballpark is made, Soroka is hopeful the talk of his return finally subsides and he can become the pitcher he always wanted to be.

“We can think of it as this big story and I prefer to just think of it as a bump in the road,” he said. “Hopefully we’re looking back on this in a long, long time and we forget that and this feels like a long time ago as well.”

Fans across Canada will certainly be hoping to see much more of the Maple Maddux in the days, weeks, months and years ahead as well.


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