'I think they see my potential: Soroka stoked to join White Sox

Acquiring a player that has had two surgeries on the same torn Achilles tendon would probably not fly with most major-league teams.

The White Sox are different.

Third baseman Jake Burger twice ruptured his left Achilles after the Sox drafted him on the first round in 2017.

It was a long, agonizing road back, but Burger made it.

And he finally broke through last season, hitting 25 home runs in 88 games with the White Sox before being traded to the Marlins.

Last Thursday, starting pitcher Michael Soroka was one of five players new Sox general manager Chris Getz landed from the Braves in a trade for reliever Aaron Bummer.

Like Burger, Soroka tore his Achilles twice, in 2020 and '21.

A rising star with Atlanta in 2019 while going 13-4 with a 2.68 ERA, Soroka didn't pitch for the Braves in 2021-22 but was able to get back on the mound last season.

"All of us who have been around the White Sox can certainly understand and relate, considering how Jake Burger went through what he did overcoming his Achilles injury and how productive he is," Getz said. "(Soroka) pitched really meaningful games for the Atlanta Braves. He's coming from an organization that has been recently successful. I think there is some upside there."

The 26-year-old Soroka spent most of last season with Class AAA Gwinnett but was able to pitch in 7 games (6 starts) for Atlanta, going 2-2 with a 6.40 ERA.

"These last three years obviously didn't go as planned for anybody," Soroka said on a Zoom call Monday. "I feel really good right now. It took some time but I got there."

Soroka, a 6-foot-5, 250-pound righty from Calgary, Canada, thanked Burger for all his help when he was down with the Achilles injuries.

"He was huge for me through my rehab," Soroka said. "He was the only one, really in pro sports, that had done it twice and come out on the other side. He stressed just to keep going."

While he's leaving a Braves team that's made the playoffs six straight years and won the World Series in 2021 and joining a White Sox team that lost 101 games last season, Soroka only sees positives.

"Getz stressed how excited they were about me and that made me feel awesome," said Soroka, who was a career 17-8 with a 3.32 over parts of four seasons with Atlanta. "It was a nice little boost of confidence to get somewhere that I think believes in me. I think they see my potential and everybody within the organization seems to be wanting to extract the most of it now and down the line. Very excited to get to work."

Even though they still have some major holes to fill and might be trading top starter Dylan Cease and injury-prone designated hitter Eloy Jimenez, Soroka doesn't think he's joining a Sox team that's destined for another 100-loss season.

"Pretty cool vision, actually. I kind of got giddy on the phone with (Getz)," Soroka said. "Having a former player that is at the helm kind of makes things a little easier from this player-to-GM relationship as it is. It sounds like he's looking to make a team that is out there to compete to win every day and that's also ready to learn and to do what it can to get better.

"It sounds like everybody involved wants to see everybody hit their ceiling and stay out there and stay healthy."

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