GLENDALE, Ariz. — New White Sox reliever Joakim Soria hasn’t been told he’ll be the White Sox closer, but there is a pretty good chance the 33-year year old two-time All-Star with 204 career saves will handle that role during his first year on the South Side.
If so, he’s ready to roll.
“It’s something I’ve done a good part of my career,” Soria said before Sox pitchers and catchers took the field on the first day of spring training Wednesday at Camelback Ranch. “I know how to do it, what it takes and if they decide to give me that spot I will be happy to accept that.”
This is Soria’s 12th spring training, but he’s still learning on the job, he said, and ready to make adjustments if and when necessary.
“Obviously, in this game you have to adjust every single time you go out there,” he said. “There is a lot of information about players, so you have to adjust.
“I always rely on the fastball. I consider that my first pitch because I can command it very well, but this is a game of adjustments and if you are old enough to say you are a veteran you have to make adjustments.”
Soria’s first impressions of the vibe and chemistry in the clubhouse are good. While the Sox are not expected to contend in the second year of their rebuild, Soria is already chiming in with the message that the Sox can surprise.
This is spring training, when hope springs eternal in 30 camps, so why not?
“A lot of people say that [we won’t win] but this is baseball,” Soria said. “Baseball has a lot of surprises. You’ve seen through the years teams that are rebuilding and they have postseasons. I wouldn’t be surprised if we ended up winning the division. Baseball is a different animal and you never know if this is going to be the year, if everybody has the best year of their career, we can go on a good run.”
The Sox acquired Soria left-handed pitcher Luis Avilán and cash considerations in a three-team exchange that cost the Sox minor-league infielder Jake Peter this offseason.
Soria went 4-3 with a 3.70 ERA, 64 strikeouts and 20 holds in 59 appearances with the Royals in 2017. He is 28-31 lifetime with a 2.86 ERA over 10 major-league seasons with Kansas City (2007-11, ’16-17), Texas (2013-14), Detroit (2014-15) and Pittsburgh (2015). Among active pitchers, he is tied for sixth in saves and ranks eighth in save percentage (82.9, 204-246).