A day after Mike Soroka entertained and excited fans across Braves Country and sent pride soaring among Canada’s tight-knit baseball community, the 20-year-old pitcher still was coming to grips with the step forward he made in his promising career.
“Lot of fun,” Soroka said, smiling as he stood in front of his locker Wednesday afternoon in the visitor’s clubhouse at Citi Field, the same spot where he stood 18 hours earlier answering questions about his successful major league debut against the Mets.
“I still think I’m processing it a little bit. It’s getting there, but definitely getting to decompress with the family last night, just hanging out with them and put the phone down – that’s what really matters.”
He doesn’t know where or when his next start will be, and the Braves say they haven’t decided if he’ll stay with the major league team or return to Triple-A Gwinnett. But the fact that he wasn’t optioned back Wednesday said plenty.
If Julio Teheran has any problems in his Thursday start against the Mets, Soroka would be ready. If Anibal Sanchez has any problems recovering from consecutive workouts Tuesday and Wednesday, the Braves could start Soroka on Sunday against the Giants rather than bring Sanchez off the disabled list, where the veteran has been since straining his right hamstring April 18.
They have no questions about Soroka’s preparedness; he confirmed their beliefs that he was ready Tuesday when the youngest pitcher in the majors thoroughly outpitched Mets ace Noah Syndergaard.
About 15 family members and friends came from Calgary on short notice to see Soroka face the Mets, and he made the trip memorable for them and for himself, pitching six innings and allowing one run against the National League East leaders and allowing only six hits and one run with no walks and five strikeouts.
The 6-foot-5 Canadian threw 58 strikes in 80 pitches, kept the ball down, had the Mets hitting grounders and swinging and missing well-located fastballs and nasty sliders.
Afterward, he returned some of the nearly 200 texts he received before repairing to a Manhattan establishment with a patio, where he and many of the folks who’ve been with him through his baseball journey could sit back, reflect and swap stories. Sharing it with them made the greatest night of his young life even better for Soroka.
“We just kind of hung out with family and friends that came,” Soroka said. “Got to just talk to them about it, just share stories. Chris Reitsma was there as well, so he had some funny stories about his debut. It’s pretty awesome. Definitely a night I’m going to remember for a long time.”
Reitsma is the former Braves reliever who has known him since Soroka was 11 or 12 and attended one of Reitsma’s baseball clinics for Canadian kids. Reitsma later became his pitching coach and had him on a Canadian junior national team.
“He’s like a big brother to me,” Soroka said. “For a long time he was Coach Chris, but as I got a little older, I got to talk to him about things other than baseball. Having him there just to support and kind of relive that through him was pretty sweet.”
Soroka got to bed “later than usual” and returned more of those texts – “I’m still getting through those, really trying to make an effort to reply to everybody that showed their support; I think that’s pretty special -- but once he got to bed, he had no problems sleeping after his big night.
His big night capped a few days that were a whirlwind since being scratched from a Triple-A start Sunday and told to be on standby in case the Braves needed him to start.
“Got a decent night’s sleep,” Soroka said, smiling. “Nice hotels, no reason not to now.”
As for what’s next, he said he hadn’t been told anything yet and that reporters probably knew as much as he did.
“I really don’t know. We just talk about, take it one day a time right now.” he said. “What can I do to get better today? Let’s go eat and get in the weight room.
“Tomorrow, we’ll take maybe a bullpen day, and then see where it goes from there.”