Soria happy in new home, wishes Royals well

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Joakim Soria was relaxing in the Texas clubhouse on Saturday morning, watching TV while waiting for a pre-workout card game to start. The former Royals closer looked quite at home with the Rangers.

"They treat me really good and everything is going smooth," Soria said.

Soria, his $8 million contract option for 2013 declined by the Royals, became a free agent and signed with the Rangers for $8 million over two years plus an option for 2015. He missed all of last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery at the end of Spring Training.

One factor favoring the Rangers was that Dallas is relatively close, a nine-hour drive, from his parents' home in Monclova, Mexico, and it likely means more family visits.

Soria's rehabilitation work is going well.

"I threw 45 pitches yesterday in the bullpen, and I expect to throw 45 again on Monday, with a changeup. Then I'll start throwing some breaking balls," he said. "And I've been feeling great."

This was the second time that Soria had the reconstructive elbow surgery.

"I know what to expect, I know how to pace myself throwing-wise, and I feel like I'm really close to going back," he said.

Soria wants to be ready for Major League competition by late May or early June. If that's the case, guess which team visits Texas on May 31-June 1-2? Yep, the Royals.

Although the Rangers and the Royals share the Surprise training complex, there's little interaction between the teams except when they play each other, and Soria hasn't seen much of his old teammates.

"I still have friends over there, I still have communications with them but I'm in a different jersey now. I'm a Texas Ranger and it's not fair to my new team for me to have something going on over there," Soria said.

"I loved Kansas City because they were great fans and they always were good to me, but now I've got a new club. That's the way baseball is, and I guess they understand that."

Soria knows the Royals well and kept up with their offseason moves.

"They have a really good team over there. They're young and they're talented and they want to get established in the Major Leagues," he said. "[New closer Greg] Holland did a great job last year and I just wish him the best; I wish whole team the best and I hope we see them in the playoffs."