The Texas Rangers took a chance on a closer coming off Tommy John surgery last offseason and it paid off nicely with an All-Star season from Joe Nathan.
They’re hoping to catch lightning in a bottle again after agreeing to terms on a two-year deal with right-hander Joakim Soria. The deal includes a club option for 2015.
Soria missed the entire 2012 season after having Tommy John surgery on his right elbow last April while with Kansas City. Soria, 28, won’t be expected to close for the Rangers when he gets healthy and he’s OK with setting up Nathan.
“I know it’s a different role,” Soria said in a conference call. “I love to be a major league pitcher. I’m going to try and do my best anywhere. Right now I’m a set-up man. I’m going to do my best to help the team.”
When he’ll be able to help remains to be seen. Soria, who also had Tommy John surgery in 2003, is now throwing from 105 feet away. He’s hoping to be able to pitch sometime in May but there are no guarantees.
One thing the native of Mexico knows is that he feels like the Rangers are the right fit for him.
“Obviously we’ve got a great team,” said Soria, who was in Arlington Tuesday for his physical and met with pitching coach Mike Maddux. “I believe we can win the World Series. That’s one of the main reasons I chose Texas instead of other teams.”
Texas also allows the right-hander to spend more time with family members, who routinely visit from Mexico when the Royals played the Rangers. Soria said that also factored into his decision.
While Soria won’t be asked to close for Texas, his numbers in five seasons with the Royals were solid. The two-time All-Star saved 160 games since he made the majors in 2007 and owns a 2.40 career ERA. Since he became the Kansas City closer midway through the ’07 season, his save percentage of 89.8 percent ranks third behind Mariano Rivera and Jose Valverde.