When Tanner Scheppers gave up a two-run double on Thursday night and needed a visit from Rangers manager Ron Washington, pitching coach Mike Maddux and the team trainer immediately afterward, the collective throat of Rangers fans everywhere got a big ol' lump in it.
Scheppers has been a pleasant surprise this year and has emerged as a very good set-up man option with a sub-1.00 ERA, but the last thing the Rangers need right now is an injury to a key pitcher. Turns out, Scheppers is OK, but it was a scary moment. Pretty soon, the Rangers hope they'll have some depth to prevent such a catastrophic situation as Joakim Soria, who was signed in the winter and has been rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, could be making his Rangers debut sooner rather than later.
The former All-Star closer, who was slated to be the team's set-up man when he returned and could possibly become the Rangers closer down the road, even if it's sometime next year.
Soria will throw live batting practice on Friday prior to the Rangers' game against the Blue Jays to get a better feel of where he's at in his recovery process from the surgery that took place 14 months ago.
“I want to know where I am at,” Soria told The Dallas Morning News. “I want the hitters to see me and tell me. I want them to let me know if I’m protecting something or if I’m letting it go. I suppose the bleachers may also tell me if a lot of balls land there. I want to take the next step. This is the next step.”
If that goes well, Soria could begin a rehab assignment in the minors and could be making his Rangers debut in the next month sometime. Soria's career ERA sits at 2.40, and that was inflated by his 4.03 ERA in 2011 that was cut short by his injury, which was obviously giving him problems. He had two 40-plus save seasons with Kansas City and is a two-time All-Star.
If he could come back effectively, he'd add another piece to the Rangers' winning bullpen of Scheppers, Robbie Ross, Joe Nathan and Neal Cotts.