Joakim Soria knows what it's like to work his way back from Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery. He's done it once before, and now he's at it again after undergoing the surgery last April and missing the entire 2012 season before signing a free-agent deal with the Texas Rangers in December.
So far, he's feeling good about the process as he's in the midst of working his way up in terms of number of pitches in short bullpen sessions at Rangers spring training in Surprise, Ariz., as he told ESPN Dallas after throwing a session Wednesday and is set to move up to 30-pitch sessions on Monday.
"I won't know for sure until I face hitters," Soria said. "Through the first few bullpens, everything has gone smooth. That is nice."
Soria's addition to the Rangers' bullpen will be key in the team's success as he is set to be Joe Nathan's set-up man once he is ready to roll, which he believes will be sometime in May. He's only throwing fastballs right now but is on schedule to begin throwing breaking and off-speed stuff, which is harder on the elbow, in the next couple of weeks.
Over his career, Soria has been an elite closer with the Kansas City Royals, notching two 40-plus save seasons in 2008 and 2010 with ERA well below 2.00 in those seasons.
Rangers manager stressed the importance of Soria being sure he's 100 percent before he comes back as he'll instantly give the Rangers a massive bullpen upgrade.
"I'm very pleased with the progress he's made," Washington told ESPN Dallas. "We just have to make sure that when he comes back, it's only one time. He's a quality pitcher. He's closed ballgames before. What he brings is an extra mentality in that bullpen of getting outs."