One of the great relievers in Major League Baseball before injuring his elbow in 2011, Joakim Soria worked hard and waited a long while before he took the mound again. In his first appearance since recovering from Tommy John ligament replacement surgery, Soria tossed a perfect inning for the Texas Rangers in their 5-4 victory against the Houston Astros on Sunday.
Handling the top of the sixth, Soria set down Carlos Corporan on a grounder to second, he covered the bag in plenty of time to retire Carlos Peña on a grounder to first, and he retired Marc Krauss on a medium depth fly ball to left.
Soria threw 11 pitches, seven for strikes, part of a banner day for the Rangers bullpen. Via the Associated Press, Soria said it was no time to doubt himself or get nervous. Just go out and have fun. And he looked pretty good for a guy who hadn't pitched in a major league game since Sept. 11, 2011, teammate A.J. Pierzynski said:
''He looked like he hadn't missed a day,'' said Pierzynski, the Texas catcher who watched the steady parade of relievers. ''Most guys that haven't pitched in over a year are a little nervous, a little fidgety out there. He was like, 'Ho hum, another spring training game.'''
It's early to say how effective Soria will be — either in stuff or durability — but the Rangers obviously signed him with the hope that he could help them shorten games. Having a pitcher of Soria's quality available in the sixth or seventh inning of a pennant race game or a playoff game would give them a lift when the time comes.