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.

Japanese Baseball to begin June 19

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Japanese League commissioner Atsushi Saito announced that Japan’s professional baseball season will open on June 19. Teams can being practice games on June 2. There will be no fans. Indeed, the league has not yet even begun to seriously discuss a plan for fans to begin attending games, though that may happen eventually.

The season will begin three months after its originally scheduled opening day of March 20. It will be 120 games long. Teams in each six-team league — the Central League and Pacific League — will play 24 games against each league opponent. There will be no interleague play and no all-star game.

The announcement came in the wake of a national state of emergency being lifted for both Tokyo and the island of Hokkaido. The rest of the country emerged from the state of emergency earlier this month. This will allow the Japanese leagues to follow leagues in South Korea and Taiwan which have been playing for several weeks.

In the United States, Major League Baseball is hoping to resume spring training in mid June before launching a shortened regular season in early July. That plan is contingent on the league and the players’ union coming to an agreement on both financial arrangements and safety protocols for a 2020 season. Negotiations on both are ongoing. Major League Baseball will, reportedly, make a formal proposal about player compensation tomorrow.