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Sunday September 19th, 2021 1:12AM

Last day of spring training, Braves' Soroka back from injury

By The Associated Press
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On the final day of spring training, former All-Star pitcher Mike Soroka took a big step toward getting back on a regular-season mound

Soroka gave up a home run while working two innings for the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday in his 2021 debut in his comeback from a torn Achilles tendon.

The 23-year-old right-hander made it through his first inning without giving up a run. The Red Sox put two aboard with a hit and a walk, but Soroka recorded a pair of strikeouts, including Chris Herrmann swinging to end the threat.

Jarren Duran led off the next inning by launching a towering drive over the right-field wall to bring the Red Sox to 5-3. Soroka issued another walk and again had to deal with two runners aboard after an error.

But Soroka closed out the seven-inning game by getting Jeter Downs to hit into a double play, earning a save.

“It felt good. It felt really good,” Soroka said “It was kind of nice to got into trouble a little bit. I had to keep making pitches like I would during the season.”

While Soroka had pitched in simulated games at the Braves’ spring training complex, this was his first appearance against an opposing team since his injury on Aug. 3, 2020.

Soroka will begin the season on the injured list and continue to build up his arm strength at the alternate-training site in suburban Atlanta. The team is hopeful that he may be ready to rejoin the rotation before the end of April.

“It was a perfect way to end a really good spring training on a positive note,” manager Brian Snitker said.

Soroka was the Braves’ opening day starter a season ago, coming off a brilliant rookie season in which he went 13-4 with a 2.68 ERA, was selected for the All-Star Game and finished sixth in the NL Cy Young Award balloting.

But he lasted only three starts after the pandemic-shortened 2020 season finally got underway.

Pitching against the New York Mets, Soroka collapsed to the ground after breaking toward first to cover the bag on a grounder to the right side. He let out a scream and knew right away that it was a devastating injury.

Soroka darted off the mound on a couple of plays Tuesday without any concern. He credited the work he’s done during his rehab for building up his confidence.

“Once you do it in a game, you’ve done it so many times already it is not a thought,” he said.

WELCOME RELIEF

Braves reliever Will Smith is auctioning off gear autographed by his teammates to raise money for relief efforts in his storm-ravaged home county south of Atlanta.

Smith is a native of Newnan, about 40 miles from Atlanta and part of Coweta County. Last week, the area was hit by a massive tornado that caused extensive damage as a deadly storm system moved across the Southeast.

“We’ve never had a tornado like this before,” Smith said. “We’ve obviously had some bad weather in the springtime, some crazy storms that roll through, trees falling down here and there. But I never remember a tornado touching down and tearing up the county like this one did.”

Among the items that are part of the auction: a Braves jersey signed by the entire team, a bat autographed by NL MVP Freddie Freeman, hats signed by each of the team’s position groups and baseballs autographed by the team’s top players, including Ronald Acuña Jr., Marcell Ozuna, Ozzie Albies and Ian Anderson.

“I really do appreciate the guys helping me out by signing some stuff to auction off to raise some money for these people back home,” Smith said from spring training Florida. “We’re just trying to get people back on their feet who got destroyed and lost their homes and stuff.”

All money raised through the auction will be matched by Smith and the Atlanta Braves Foundation. Information is available at https://www.mlb.com/braves/community/serve/relief.

ROCKIES 2, WHITE SOX 1 (7 INNINGS)

Chicago starter Dylan Cease struck out 11 without a walk in 5 1/3 innings, allowing one run.

Austin Gomber struck out four over three scoreless innings for Colorado, giving up two hits. C.J. Cron hit a home run.

PIRATES 1, TWINS 1 (7)

Rookie Ke’Bryan Hayes hit his second home run for Pittsburgh. He went 22 for 51 (.431) with 10 extra-base hits this spring. Adam Frazier finished 21 for 43 (.488) in 14 games and Kevin Newman went 20 for 33 (.606). Pirates starter JT Brubaker allowed just one hit in five innings.

Matt Shoemaker made his fourth start for Minnesota, allowing one run on two hits in three innings. Starter Randy Dobnak made his fifth appearance, coming on in the sixth to throw two perfect innings.

BRAVES 5, RED SOX 3 (7)

Drew Smyly made his fourth start in his first spring with Atlanta, allowing two unearned runs on six hits in 4 2/3 innings, striking out four. Ozzie Albies hit his third home run and doubled.

Martín Pérez made his fifth start for Boston, surrendering four runs on four hits and two walks in five innings with five strikeouts. Pérez allowed nine runs in 12 innings in three starts against the Braves this spring. J.D. Martinez had two hits, including a two-run single. Top outfield prospect Jarren Duran hit his third home run.

RAYS 5, TIGERS 0 (7)

Cody Reed opened for Tampa Bay, tossing a scoreless inning. Starter Michael Wacha followed with three shutout innings. Joey Wendle, Manuel Margot and Willy Adames all hit doubles.

Casey Mize made his fifth start in his sixth appearance for Detroit, allowing two runs on five hits and a walk in 4 2/3 innings. Mize threw four scoreless innings before running into trouble in the fifth. Spencer Torkelson, the Tigers' top prospect and the No. 1 pick in the 2020 draft, struggled in his first camp, getting just one hit in 27 at-bats (.037).

BREWERS 6, RANGERS 3

At Arlington, Texas, Milwaukee starter Brett Anderson gave up two runs in five innings. Kolten Wong hit a two-run homer and Christian Yelich singled to finish spring training with a .393 batting average.

Rangers starter Mike Foltynewicz allowed six runs on six hits, striking out six in four innings. Wes Benjamin worked two innings in relief, allowing one hit and striking out three.

DIAMONDBACKS 3, INDIANS 2

At Phoenix, Diamondbacks starter Taylor Widener struck out seven over 5 2/3 innings, allowing four hits.

Cleveland starter Aaron Civale allowed a run on five hits over 4 1/3 innings. Bryan Shaw gave up a walk and struck out three in the sixth. José Ramírez and Jake Bauers homered.

___

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