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ARLINGTON (AP) - Joakim Soria is finally set to throw off the Rangers Ballpark mound to major league hitters.
While Soria will only be throwing live batting practice to his Texas teammates, Friday is a significant step for the reliever still a few weeks from his Rangers debut.
“It’s been a long spring training for me,” Soria said Thursday. “Finally, I’m here. … I want to know where I’m at.”
Soria was recovering from elbow ligament replacement surgery when the Rangers signed the two-time All-Star to an $8 million, two-year contract last winter with a team option for 2015. He hasn’t pitched in a major league game since Sept. 11, 2011, for Kansas City.
The right-hander had spent the entire spring at the team’s complex in Arizona before getting to Texas on Thursday, where he was greeted enthusiastically in the clubhouse by teammates he still hasn’t played in a game with yet.
“I’m really happy to get out here and be around these guys … and start living this life again,” Soria said. “Getting in this atmosphere and starting to get excited about games is really good for me.”
The 29-year-old Soria made 298 relief appearances for Kansas City from 2007-11, when he converted 160 of 180 save chances and had a 2.40 ERA. Soria had Tommy John surgery in April 2012, and also had a ligament replaced in 2003.
Soria expects to throw about 35 pitches during the batting practice session Friday. He likely will do that at least two more times before the Texas completes its longest homestand of the season next Thursday. If all goes well, Soria would likely begin a rehabilitation assignment when the Rangers hit the road.
After throwing a simulated game Tuesday in Arizona, with two 20-pitch segments separated by a five-minute break and eight warm-up pitches, Soria was ready to throw to major league hitters.
“These guys can look at the ball and they have a plan at home plate,” Soria said. “They can tell me where I am and I can see if they’re comfortable hitting against me or my pitches are sharp enough to get those guys out. I think it’s a very good test for me.”
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