SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Texas Rangers reliever Joakim Soria was smiling on Sunday, pleased that after throwing three bullpen sessions his arm felt good. He still feels that sometime in May is a realistic target for his return from Tommy John surgery last April.
"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, who moved from the other side of the Surprise Recreation Campus to join the Rangers, threw two 15-pitch bullpens and one 20-pitch pen and will be moving up to 30 pitches on Monday. After a few sessions at that rate, he'll throw 45 pitches. He's only throwing fastballs at this point and says that he'll have an even better idea of how his arm feels once he adds breaking balls and off-speed pitches into the mix. He said he'll likely start with the changeup in a few weeks.
Soria was throwing for five minutes at 75 feet, five minutes at 105 feet and 10 minutes at 120 feet before he graduated to the mound. The long-toss regimen is designed to keep strengthening his arm.
This is Soria's second rehab from Tommy John surgery, so he knows how his arm should feel and he's encouraged so far.
"The intensity goes up when you face a hitter," Soria said. "I'll know more once I pitch in a game."
Manager Ron Washington is happy with what he's seen so far.
"I'm very pleased with the progress he's made," Washington said. "We just have to make sure that when he comes back, it's only one time. He's a quality pitcher. He's closed ballgames before. What he brings is an extra mentality in that bullpen of getting outs.
"He's throwing the ball freely. He hasn't opened up, but he's throwing it freely. He's happy with what he's doing. When he's happy, I'm happy."
Other injury news:
Justin Miller (Tommy John in April) threw a 30-pitch bullpen on Tuesday.