Joakim Soria aiming to join Rangers’ bullpen in May

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Via Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com:

Texas Rangers reliever Joakim Soria was smiling on Sunday, pleased that after throwing three bullpen sessions his arm has felt good. He still feels that some time in May is a realistic target for his return.

“I won’t know for sure until I face hitters,” Soria said. “Threw the first few bullpens, everything has gone smooth. That is nice.”

Soria had Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery a little more than 10 months ago. He signed a two-year, $8 million free agent contract with the Rangers this winter and will operate as a setup man in front of closer Joe Nathan once he’s back to full strength.

Soria, 28, owns a 2.40 career ERA, a 1.04 career WHIP and a 9.7 career K/9 through five MLB seasons.

Texas Rangers fire manager Jeff Banister

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The Texas Rangers just announced that they have fired Jeff Banister as the team’s manager. Bench coach Don Wakamatsu has been named interim manager for the remainder of 2018 season.

Banister was in the last year of his contract with the club, but there was an option for 2019. Rangers brass, obviously, has decided to go in a different direction following what will be the club’s worst finish in Banister’s tenure. At the moment the Rangers are 64-88 and are assured of last place in the AL West.

Banister was hired before the 2015 season and led the Rangers to first place finishes in each of his first two seasons, willing the Manager of the Year Award in 2015. The club fell to a disappointing third place and a 78-84 record last season, however and, after an offseason that neither helped the Rangers rebuild OR reload, this season the descent has continued.

Injuries and under achievement has been the order of the day for the past two years and, with the career of Adrian Beltre nearing its end and the Rangers having been passed up by the Astros as the class of the division, a full rebuild is in the club’s future. Even if that was not the case, however, recently there have been some reports about Banister having trouble communicating with his players, suggesting that, perhaps, the Rangers would move on from him even if the results on the field had been better.

Banister ends his reign as the Rangers’ skipper with a record of 325-313.