Royals reliever Joakim Soria is not one to dwell on the past. Case in point: After returning to Kansas City and suffering through a nightmarish 2016 season, Soria said it took him all of 24 hours to flush the memory and move forward.
“Day one,” Soria said.
The performance was not pleasant, of course. In 2016, Soria posted a 4.05 ERA and recorded a club-high seven blown saves. According to “Win Probability Added.” an advanced metric that measures a pitcher’s impact on a game, he was the third-worst reliever in baseball. It was not what he had envisioned after returning to the Royals on a three-year, $25 million contract.
“It’s not that I don’t think about it,” Soria said. “But you have to move forward. It’s like in any job, you have rough days, you have rough years. But you have to move forward.
“If you’re stuck, you’re just going to be stuck your whole life. And I don’t see myself that way.”
Soria is expected to slot somewhere in the middle of the Royals’ relief corps. He appears unlikely to begin the season as the primary setup man for closer Kelvin Herrera. Still, Royals manager Ned Yost remains confident that Soria will rebound.
“He’s got to bounce back from what he did last year,” Yost said. “(Soria) could still close, in my estimation. And do I think he’ll bounce back? Yeah. But setting roles in the first day of spring training? No, we’re not doing that.”
For now, Soria would just like to move on. In some ways, he was humbled last season. But he has never backed down from a challenge, he said. Still, some of the frustration from 2016 still lingers. For example: During an extended interview with reporters Tuesday, he quipped: “And I hope you guys move on, too.”
All winter, Soria did not spend much time thinking about his mistakes last season, nor did he dig too deep into the film or the numbers. But he is putting a focus on shoring up his command, he said. For now, that’s where he will start.
“Last year, I threw harder than usual,” Soria said. “I felt strong last year. But obviously, the results weren’t there. But I’ll try to have great command.”