Joakim Soria hopes to begin rehab assignment Thursday

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The Rangers signed reliever Joakim Soria to a two-year, $8 million contract over the winter, but he has yet to throw a pitch for the club because he’s still in recovery mode from the second Tommy John surgery of his career. However, they could finally get some bang for their buck soon.

Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports that Soria made it through his second live batting practice session in the past four days this afternoon. He’s tentatively scheduled to begin a minor league rehab assignment with Double-A Frisco on Thursday, which could set him up to make his Rangers’ debut around the All-Star break.

“It was really good,” Soria said of the session, in which he faced Craig Gentry, Geovany Soto and Chris McGuiness in a session of approximately 35-40 pitches. “My key is my command. My command was good. If my command is good, everything is good. I need to see real baseball, real batters in a game and up the intensity.”

Soria was originally expected to join the Rangers’ bullpen in May, but his timeline was pushed back in April after he suffered a strained pectoral muscle. Either way, he could make a major impact during the second half if he’s healthy. The 29-year-old right-hander owns a 2.40 ERA over 298 appearances in the majors.

Shohei Ohtani no longer facing Masahiro Tanaka on Sunday at Yankee Stadium

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Shohei Ohtani has essentially become the Angels’ designated Sunday starting pitcher, but Angels manager Mike Scioscia announced Thursday morning that the 23-year-old two-way Japanese star will be skipped in the rotation this weekend at Yankee Stadium for “workload management” purposes.

Ohtani is fine to continue hitting, so there’s no sense of any physical ailment.

This decision will rob us — and the Japanese media — of a showdown between Ohtani and countrymate Masahiro Tanaka. And for that we are rather devastated, but you can understand the Angels’ concerns about overuse.

Ohtani has registered a 3.35 ERA, 1.066 WHIP, and 52/14 K/BB ratio through his first 40 1/3 innings (seven starts) as a major league pitcher and he’s slashing .308/.364/.582 with six home runs and 19 RBI in 26 games as a part-time DH.