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1 hour ago, Unknøwn said:

Mark Bowman is speculating Dansby will return to the Braves for a lesser price. He thinks 6 years $123M. He's thinking Dansby will have larger offers but will take less to stay home. 

Thats about as team friendly as you can get now a days.

He's not my top choice but that would make it impossible to get upset about.

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23 minutes ago, jidady said:

Atlanta seems to want a top arm this off-season. That tells me we DO have cash to spend.

The Braves have the cash to spend. It’s up to Liberty if they want to enter the CBT and how far they want to go into it. The Braves have the SP to cover the 5th spot. I’d rather see them secure a better player for LF

Edited by For the A
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Braves’ Mike Soroka had tightness near twice-torn Achilles, so he got high-tech help

Mike Soroka went to Florida at the end of May to begin facing hitters before a much-anticipated rehab assignment that was expected to commence by late June, but didn’t start until mid-August. When asked about the delay at the time, Braves officials said Soroka was steadily ramping up activities and had been slowed after being hit in the knee by a comebacker during batting practice in late June.

While the story about the comebacker was true, it wasn’t the reason Soroka didn’t make his first rehab start until Aug. 16. In truth, he spent a month in Utah at Bio-Kinetics 3D Research & Development, a state-of-the-art training facility. He was there to fix his pitching mechanics after feeling worrisome tightness around the calf above his right Achilles, which had been torn twice and surgically repaired three times since he last pitched in an MLB in August 2020.

Soroka discussed what happened for the first time Wednesday as a guest on the 755 Is Real podcast. The affable Canadian spoke via Zoom call from a high-rise apartment he shares with his girlfriend in Calgary, where outside it was 10 degrees Fahrenheit.

“In late June or July, I realized I was still kind of getting into the Achilles too much when I was coming off the mound,” Soroka said of those first sessions facing hitters at Braves camp in North Port, Fla. “I could tell that if I didn’t fix it now, I might end up paying for it down the line. So I talked to Alex (Anthopoulos) right away and I said, ‘Look, I have a great opportunity to go learn exactly what I’m doing and how to get out of that.’” 

Anthopoulos, Braves president of baseball operations, gave him permission to go the pitching lab at Bio-Kinetics, where they have studied pitchers with three-dimensional motion analysis for decades, through techniques its founders developed in the 1980s and famously first used on Nolan Ryan. They keep a database of thousands of pitchers and use the info to study how many of the elite pitchers, including Greg Maddux and Randy Johnson, stayed healthier than others.

Anything that could help Soroka stay healthy was worth doing, Braves officials agreed during a conference call with Soroka and members of the coaching and medical and training staff.

“I noticed my calf started tightening up again after I’d pitch,” Soroka said. “It was just going down the road that I’ve been down and I said, ‘No, we’re not doing this.’ Initially, I said we’ll wait for the offseason. But everybody agreed, once we got on the call, this was what we needed to do. And Alex, to his credit, was extremely supportive of this and said, ‘Look, if this is what you truly believe you need to do to make your career better, do it. I want you back and I want you good. I don’t want you to come back and pull the plug because things aren’t going so well.’”

Bio-Kinetics 3D has been lauded over the years by pitchers such as the late Tom Seaver. Soroka believes changes made in his delivery in Utah have better positioned him to have sustained success by correcting flaws that he now believes contributed to his initial Achilles rupture, flaws both explained and shown to him in detail through analysis done soon after he arrived.

“There were some pretty glaring issues that I had, honestly, for most of my career, and it kind of got to a point where it did bite me in the a–,” said Soroka. He spent about four weeks learning what he was doing wrong and how he could change.

“I honestly think it was the best decision I made all year. It’s a continual process, it’s not one-and-done,” said Soroka, who plans to return to Utah before next season. “There’s lots of things still to work on. But that was extremely important.”

Bob Keyes owns Bio-Kinetics and worked for many years alongside renowned pitching coach Tom House, an original research team member. The company’s advisory board includes doctors, exercise science and biomechanics experts as well as trainers and past and present coaches.

“When he first got out here, I knew about his career and everything,” Keyes said of Soroka, “and then when I went to put his analysis together, I thought, this guy is only 24. And I couldn’t believe it. He played all those years, and then hadn’t played for a couple of years.

“So I told him, my goal was to get those two years back for him on the back end. I said he needed to work his butt off to do it. And he’s certainly doing his part.”

Soroka, who turned 25 in August, made his MLB debut in 2018 at 20. He was an All-Star and NL Rookie of the Year runner-up in 2019 after going 13-4 with a 2.68 ERA in 29 starts and allowing a league-low 0.7 home runs per nine innings.

He was projected as the next great Braves starting pitcher and became the youngest Opening Day starter in modern Braves franchise history in 2020. Then things took a terrible turn.

Soroka tore his Achilles in the third start of that pandemic-delayed season, during a benign play he’d made a thousand times before. On a grounder to the right side of the infield, he planted his right foot to run and cover first base, but when he pushed off the tendon snapped in half. Soroka crumpled to the ground.

Ten months later, on the very day he was permitted to remove the protective boot after a second surgery — a clean-up procedure after his body rejected interior sutures from the first surgery — Soroka tore the Achilles again, a complete rupture, while stepping through a door into the clubhouse for a rehab session.

Soroka has never before publicly mentioned having soreness in his right Achilles and calf before the first rupture. But after having his pitching motion analyzed, dissected and corrected in Utah, a lot of things started to make more sense to him.

Side-by-side video of him before and after the fixes in Utah shows how much straighter his direction is to home plate now. “I think I always did a little bit, but right about 2018 — the year I got called up — I really started falling towards the third base side. Almost, like, the third base (on-deck) batter’s circle. Kind of falling over those toes, and out of my hip; I was pushing, basically, out of the ball of my foot from the get-go, and then twisting on it.

“…When we learn how to push, we learn how to push with our big muscles — you know, like quads. So you end up feeling powerful in a quad-push position. A ton of guys are getting into that. And while I was seeing Bob, there were numerous other guys that he’d dealt with, with back-Achilles issues.”

Soroka had heard countless times since the initial injury that it was something that just happened, no explanation, that it could’ve happened to anyone. Others have speculated that there was something structural wrong with his body that couldn’t withstand the torque of high-level pitching.

The analysis of his delivery told him otherwise.

“Not only was I putting too much stress on it, but I was basically taking out lower-half involvement from anything in getting a kinetic chain to the baseball.

“That was kind of the crazy part for me, learning that I cornered myself into throwing at a disadvantage for years, most likely to be able to manipulate the ball and see the ball move. That was tough to grasp.”

He said he didn’t want to change anything previously because it worked: “If you had told me in 2019, ‘You need to change that,’ I would have told you to f— off.”

But two Achilles ruptures and two years away from the majors made him more receptive to change, particularly when Keyes showed him exactly what was going on.

“The stride was 11.8 inches closed towards the third-base side in his delivery,” Keyes said. “Only to be outdone by the foot-strike angle that was 58.1 — 90 degrees would be wide open. So the stride was off-line and the foot-strike angle was really closed. It was restricting his body through the rotation substantially, and then causing a posture imbalance, postural misalignment.

“And then the big tilt to the glove side going the other way, which kind of left his back heel on the ground, just really late getting the heel up. So the analysis shows it was just a lot of force on his Achilles, by the timing and the position that his body’s in right there. He had a lot going north and south and not enough going straight on line to the target.”

Soroka’s previous reluctance to make changes was a scenario familiar to the staff at Bio-Kinetics. Pitchers don’t want to change something that they believe is integral to their success, even if it might cause long-term problems.

“A lot of pitchers think, OK, this deception is part of my success, and they have to weigh that,” Keyes said. “Is that adding stress to my elbow and shoulder and that type of thing, and do I need to make a change? … There’s a fine line.

“What you want to do is maximize the force while minimizing the effort that it takes to develop that force. And with the imbalance and the inefficient kinematic sequence — it started in his hip and worked its way to his groin and through his Achilles, and it was also affecting his shoulder and elbow.”

Keyes said Soroka worked six hours a day in Utah on the changes to his delivery.

“He had some good velocity throws here. He had to re-invent himself a little bit, but I think the future looks really good for him.”

Shortly after returning from Utah, Soroka started his belated rehab assignment in resounding fashion, striking out eight of the first nine batters and allowing one hit and no walks in four innings for the Braves’ High-A Rome affiliate. Afterward, he said his sinker was as good as ever.

“When I did things, right, the sinker was still really good, if not a bit better,” Soroka said. “And I could see it when I was going dead straight the whole time, it held the zone until 55 feet and then, gone (dropped down). I wasn’t used to that.

“I understand they were High-A hitters; I get it. But at no point in my minor league career was I able to consistently get a swing and miss on that pitch; you’re not typically trying to. But when thrown properly, I was like, ‘OK, I don’t need to see the ball go up and then back down. That’s not the good one.’”

The fact that Soroka was charged with 10 hits and six runs in eight innings combined in his next two rehab starts for Triple-A Gwinnett didn’t upset him too much. He knew not to expect things to go as smoothly as the first start, not when he’d been away from competitive baseball so long, and not after making changes to his delivery.

“Like I said, it’s a process and it doesn’t mean that I’m going to have things figured out by February 10,” when spring training begins, Soroka said. “You know, this could be a process over years.”

Soroka had five strikeouts with no walks and one hit allowed in four innings of his next rehab start, Sept. 2. But two weeks after that, in his sixth and final rehab outing with Gwinnett, he gave up three homers, six runs and hit two batters in five innings. A week later, the Braves announced they were shutting him down for the season due to elbow inflammation. Nothing serious, they said, but no reason to push it.

He attributed the soreness in part to getting accustomed to his new delivery on the fly, and ramping up activities so much after two years of worrying more about his Achilles rehab(s) than anything else.

“Now this offseason, I can train like an athlete and do arm care like a maniac every couple of days. So yeah, it’s exciting.”

Back in May, Soroka envisioned returning to the Braves’ starting rotation soon after the All-Star break and injecting energy into the team during the dog days of summer. That didn’t happen, but Soroka has learned to keep things in perspective.

“I think what made that (shutdown) easier was that from the start — especially the second time through the Achilles rehab — I wasn’t going to think of my rehab like some great story,” Soroka said. “Because I think once you start getting into the mindset of, ‘Oh, this is a huge comeback, I’m going to do this, I’m going to do that,’ it’s just unneeded pressure, and it’s distracting you from your goals. Getting away from the fantasy of, you know, returning, having a sub-3 (ERA) and guiding the guys into the playoffs — you want to entertain those thoughts. It’s fun. But you realize that there’s a lot of things out of your control.”

Soroka said he felt fortunate to have been drafted and developed by the Braves, who’ve stood by him throughout the past two years and brought him back on a $2.8 million salary as an arbitration-eligible player last year even when they didn’t know if he’d be ready to pitch at any point during the season. And the Braves made it clear some time ago that he’ll be tendered a contract for the 2023 season.

He was quick to not get too far ahead of himself.

“I’ve got to put my head down and work,” he said. “Yeah, I can fantasize about pitching as a 39-year-old, just like Justin Verlander. That’s obviously the dream. But that’s a long ways away, and there’s work that I got to do today and tomorrow, to be able to follow that path.”

Soroka, ever smiling and optimistic, said, “In a way, I feel like I could end up looking back on this as a small blessing in disguise. Because if I never learned this (about his delivery), maybe I would have dealt with a bigger issue. Maybe I would have dealt with a large shoulder issue. Once you blow your rotator cuff, it’s a different story coming back, right? You never know. But talking to the older guys, and seeing some guys have changed some stuff in their career, it’s definitely very encouraging.

“First things first, though, is get one solid year. And then we’ll worry about the rest.”

(Top photo: Todd Kirkland / Getty Images)

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21 hours ago, Unknøwn said:

Braves added Seth Elledge and Michael Tonkin to the 40 man roster. They also activated Pena and Ynoa from the IL. 

Not the guys I expected to be added, but both were brilliant in Gwinnett last season, both have some major league experience, and both will be bullpen contenders if they are still rostered by the time spring training starts.

They would have been minor league free agents if they hadn't been added. Atlanta must have felt they would have gotten major league offers if they left. 

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We all know that AA doesn't leak info.  This might be total BS.  But I can sort of understand if there are concerns about the knee, or maybe concerns about Acuna's attitude in general.

And the Braves are the only team without a player on the MLB top 100 prospect list.  The Dodgers have 7 on the list.  If the Braves could re-stock their minor league system with some top prospects then it might be time to consider selling high on RAJ.

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42 minutes ago, Unknøwn said:

This comes from Matt Vasgersian on MLB Network. He commented on what the Braves could get but he stated before saying it that he has zero knowledge on it and is just speaking as a baseball fan, no inside information whatsoever. 

I heard it from him and Dan Pleasac.

I don't put any weight into it, just thought it was interesting. 

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20 minutes ago, Malachore said:

That's right I remember hosting about that.

Still seems like an absolute steal, the guy had great stuff but the foot issue is concerning. 

It's a no risk thing. He's not promised a 25 man spot. If he fails to make the club his salary drops to $180K. He gets a paycheck while trying to prove himself healthy and the Braves get a potential solid middle RP for nothing. 

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