Joakim Soria finally cleared to join Rangers bullpen

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Joakim Soria agreed to a two-year, $8 million free agent contract with the Rangers in December 2012.

And he is finally ready to begin contributing.

Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest reports that the right-hander was activated from the 60-day disabled list on Sunday morning and will be in the Rangers’ bullpen for Sunday afternoon’s series finale against the Astros at the Ballpark In Arlington.

Soria missed the first three months of the 2013 regular season because he was still recovering from Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery — the second of his career. He hasn’t appeared in a major league game since 2011.

Soria, 29, registered an outstanding 2.40 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and 9.7 K/9 in five years (2007-2011) with the Royals, converting 160 saves. He allowed just one hit and fanned eight batters in seven rehab appearances and should eventually move into a setup role in Texas behind Tanner Scheppers and Joe Nathan.

Nick Tepesch was placed on the 15-day disabled list in a corresponding move with an elbow injury.

Giancarlo Stanton will defend his Home Run Derby title

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The Marlins announced on Sunday that outfielder Giancarlo Stanton will defend his Home Run Derby title when the city of Miami host’s the All-Star Game festivities next month.

Stanton, 27, defeated Todd Frazier in the finals of last year’s Home Run Derby at Petco Park, hitting 20 home runs to Frazier’s 13. Stanton hit a total of 61 home runs in the Derby. This will be the third Home Run Derby in which Stanton has participated.

Stanton also went 1-for-3 with a solo home run to help the Marlins defeat the Cubs 4-2 on Sunday. He’s now batting .274/.357/.551 with 20 home runs and 49 RBI in 311 plate appearances.

Aaron Hicks to go on the disabled list with an oblique injury

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Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks left Sunday’s game against the Rangers after four innings due to soreness in his right oblique. After the game, Hicks said he expects to go on the 10-day disabled list and miss the next three to four weeks, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports.

Hicks was 1-for-2 with a single before departing on Sunday. He entered the game batting .288/.397/.515 with 10 home runs and 37 RBI in 198 plate appearances. It is by far the best season of his career.

Jacoby Ellsbury is on his way back from a concussion, so the Yankees will only have to bridge the gap in center field for a week or two. Mason Williams could draw some starts in center field in the meantime.