Soroka, Pache among standouts in Braves’ first intrasquad game

The Braves held their first intrasquad game Monday evening at Truist Park. Mike Soroka faced Josh Tomlin in the first of four scheduled games this week as the Braves prepare for opening day July 24.

Soroka, pitching for the “home” team, allowed four hits over four innings. His change-up impressed, specifically on a strikeout of Ender Inciarte that’s since circulated on social media. He even worked out of a jam, striking out Tyler Flowers with the bases loaded in the first inning.

“I liked the fact he had to work a little bit today,” manager Brian Snitker said. “You breeze through these things, and opening day is the first time you get into some trouble. It was good for him to have to work through some innings. He feels good, stuff was good. It was a good, productive outing.”

» PHOTOS: A look at Monday’s scrimmage

Soroka came away more than satisfied.

“It felt pretty close to a real game,” Soroka said. “I am (where I want to be). To be honest, my stuff has never felt better. I’ve been making a lot of pitches that are riding the line, you know. Just missing or just off. When you get foul balls late in counts, it’s just about tweaking those little finishers to make sure you get that strike three or that ball in play. That’s something that I have to iron out, but I feel as good as I ever have.”

Soroka, the team’s likely opening-day starter, should have one more outing before the regular season. His first real outing probably will come against Mets ace and two-time reigning Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom. Soroka doesn’t anticipate any issues getting hyped despite pitching in an empty (fans-wise) Citi Field.

“I think it’s going to come alive,” Soroka said. “That’s what we’re all looking forward to, just hitting that adrenaline that just pushes you over the edge where you just react on instincts. Just let it happen as opposed to trying to make it happen.”

Other notes from Monday’s game:

» Top outfield prospect Cristian Pache laced an RBI-double off the left-field wall against Tomlin. He was placed on first base for situational purposes and was hurt on a late slide while stealing second. After trainers assisted him, Pache stood up and walked off on his own power.

It was thought to be just a scare. Pache is expected to be available Tuesday.

“They (trainers) don’t think they’ll limit anything he does tomorrow,” Snitker said. The Braves have been pushing Pache to run more on the bases because he’s yet to realize his stolen-base potential. He’s stolen only 15 bases across the past two minor-league seasons.

While Pache, 21, likely won’t crack the initial roster, he’s quickly approaching his MLB debut. His physical and offensive development over the past couple of years is evident, which is why he ranks as the organization’s No. 1 prospect.

“Just watching him grow up, mature, get bigger and stronger,” Snitker said. “He’s going to be a heck of a player.”

» Ozzie Albies and Marcell Ozuna each recorded two hits off Soroka. After Albies’ second hit, he stole second and scored on an Ozuna single. 

“(Ozuna) looks great, and we’re excited,” Soroka said. The Braves didn’t fret when their free-agent acquisition was 2-for-24 in the original spring training, and now they’re pleased with how he’s looked in the brief rebooted edition.

“I think he’s having some good at-bats,” Snitker said. “He has the whole time. I think he feels really good with where he’s at right now. I do.”

» Catcher Travis d’Arnaud homered off Tomlin. It was his second home run under game-like circumstances after he homered in a controlled scrimmage last week. The veteran backstop hit 16 homers each in 2017 and 2019. He only played four games in 2018 because of injury.

» Johan Camargo launched a two-run homer off Tyler Matzek. Camargo made noticeable progress in the discarded spring training, with a slimmed-down body and offensive showing that included an 8-for-28 (.286) line with a homer and two doubles in 11 exhibition games. 

The Braves haven’t decided who will primarily handle third base – Austin Riley might be at first if Freddie Freeman is unavailable to start the season because of his positive COVID-19 test – but Camargo will play a significant part wherever he’s positioned.

» Snitker isn’t sure how many pitchers the Braves will carry on their initial 30-man roster, but he guessed Monday that it would be 17. The Braves will go pitching-heavy, making use of the expanded roster during the opening stretch, which includes 20 consecutive games without an off day.

» The Braves have three more intrasquad games this week. They’ll play Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday. The team also will play two exhibition games against the Marlins next week (July 21-22) before traveling to New York for opening day.

Max Fried, Chris Rusin, Bryse Wilson, Tucker Davidson and Jacob Webb are among the players expected to pitch Tuesday. Wednesday’s game will feature a larger pool of pitchers, Snitker said, and will go around nine innings.

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