ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rangers open a three-game series with the Royals on Friday at Kauffman Stadium. It will be reliever Joakim Soria's first trip to Kansas City since signing with the Rangers as a free agent in the offseason.
"I don't think about it that much," Soria said. "I'm thinking about helping this team. Of course it's a pleasure to go to Kansas City. They gave me a chance to be a Major League pitcher. I'm grateful for that. But right now, that's not what I'm focused on."
Soria was selected by the Royals in the 2006 Rule 5 Draft. Soria had never pitched before in the big leagues, but ended up the Royals' closer from 2007-11. He was a two-time All-Star and had 160 saves over five years before missing all of 2012 because of Tommy John surgery.
The Rangers signed him to a two-year contract in the offseason. He didn't make his Rangers debut until July 7, but he enters Thursday's finale against the Rays with a 3.10 ERA in 22 games, while opponents are hitting .208 off him.
"It seems like the more we can give him the ball, the better he gets," manager Ron Washington said. "He's starting to show his experience, and I'm really seeing him getting his competitive juices flowing. We know he can get outs, and that's what I'm seeing."
Washington said he still doesn't see Soria being back to the level when he was an All-Star closer for the Royals. Washington said Soria needs more "consistent execution" with his pitches.
"This guy doesn't throw many pitches when he's right," Washington said. "He's throwing a lot of pitches. He's still getting outs, but throwing a lot of pitches. This guy was a strike thrower. He's getting his feel back."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less