ARLINGTON -- Rangers closer Joe Nathan said he has been asked to pitch in the World Baseball Classic. Nathan was contacted by Joe Torre, who will manage the United States team this spring."Joe Torre called and said they had interest," Nathan said. "I asked if I could give him an answer in a couple of weeks, and he said that wouldn't be a problem. I'll talk to the Rangers about it. We're looking to see if that's the best plan going into the season. If we don't think it will affect me too bad, it would be an honor to play in it." Nathan was on the United States team in the inaugural tournament in 2006 while with the Twins, but he decided against playing in '09. Third baseman Adrian Beltre and Nelson Cruz said they are planning to play for the Dominican Republic. Like Nathan, Beltre played in 2006, but did not play in '09. "You get to play for your country, it's good competition and the fans like it," Beltre said. "I'm looking forward to playing for my country and winning. The fans in our country take a lot of pride in how we do over here. We're not happy how the last [tournaments] ended up, not even going to the finals. We want to show we're better than that. I want to be a part of it and beat Japan." Cruz played for the Dominican Republic in 2009.
Darvish feels more relaxed after 'so-so' season
ARLINGTON -- Yu Darvish was 16-9 with a 3.90 ERA and 221 strikeouts in 29 starts for the Rangers last season. He didn't sound particularly thrilled about his season."There were some rough times, some good times as well," Darvish said. "Overall, just so-so." The Rangers might take "so-so" from Darvish every year, especially since he's not sure if he can do better than that. "Every year is different," Darvish said on Friday night before the Rangers' annual awards banquet. "Physically I'm different, my body is different, the whole year is different. This year, I'll adjust to the way I feel physically and attack the season as if it were a new season." Darvish, who accepted his Rangers Rookie of the Year Award on Friday, is a month away from beginning his second season in the Majors. It was one year ago that Texas officially announced his signing, and he did admit that he feels more relaxed this offseason. That has helped his preparation, and Darvish doesn't feel as frantically rushed as he did last season. "Compared to last year, I feel so much more at ease," Darvish said. "After my first year, getting to know the players, the coaches and the front office, I really feel a part of the team. That how I feel right now. It's a totally different feeling."
Soria enjoying 'perfect' progress from surgery
ARLINGTON -- Reliever Joakim Soria, who was signed by the Rangers as a free agent during the Winter Meetings, said so far his rehabilitation program has gone "perfect" as he continues his recovery from Tommy John surgery.Soria, who was a two-time All-Star closer during his six years with the Royals, underwent surgery on April 3, 2012, and he's hoping to be available by the end of May or early June. He is currently throwing long toss and probably won't go off a mound until the end of February. "So far it has been perfect, every step has been perfect," said Soria, who also missed the entire 2003 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery for the first time. "I know what to expect this time. It's a little different. The first time I was 19 years old and most of my rehabilitation was in Mexico. Now I'm here in Phoenix and we have all the facilities and all the stuff to help you recover."
Rangers awards show quotes
Random observations by Rangers before Friday's awards show at the Arlington Convention Center: Adrian Beltre on being reunited with hitting coach Dave Magadan from 2010 with the Red Sox: "He helped me a lot, especially in Spring Training. We watched some tapes, he called me over and pointed out some things I was doing wrong. I didn't realize it. After that, I felt a lot better in my swing. That year, we had a good relationship. I'm glad he is over here." Joe Nathan on Mike Napoli, Josh Hamilton and Michael Young departing this offseason: "We're not going to try to replace what Michael brings to a clubhouse or try and replace a guy like Josh or Napoli. That's not what we're trying to do. The new guys coming in, all they can do is go out and do what they're capable of. It's about us coming together as a team and jelling and having that chemistry and going out and competing together. We hope at the end of the day we have a chance to go to the postseason." Catcher A.J. Pierzynski was on the White Sox team that swept the Astros in the 2005 World Series, with Lance Berkman on the losing side. Now they are together and Pierzynski said, "He also got a [Word Series ring with the Cardinals in 2011], so I can't brag too much. He had a pretty good Series against us, he did some damage, so I can't brag too much."
Manager Ron Washington said he still wants to pair catcher Geovany Soto with Yu Darvish, but added that he reserves the right to use A.J. Pierzynski with him, as well. The Rangers will hold a pitchers minicamp at the Ballpark in Arlington next week. Among those expected to attend are Martin Perez, Michael Kirkman, Justin Grimm, Wilmer Font, Robbie Ross, Tanner Scheppers, Roman Mendez, Coty Woods, Cory Burns, Nick Tepesch, Cody Buckel, Johan Yan and Jacob Brigham. Matt Harrison was at the Rangers awards show to accept Pitcher of the Year, and he said being in town may allow for further discussions on his contract. The two sides have had preliminary discussions on a multiyear deal.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.