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Soria, Rangers finalize $8 million, 2-year deal

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Soria, Rangers finalize $8 million, 2-year deal

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Joakim Soria can't wait to get back on the mound. And he can't wait to win.

The injured reliever and the Texas Rangers finalized their $8 million, two-year contract on Tuesday.

A two-time All-Star with Kansas City, Soria is recovering from elbow ligament-replacement surgery on April 3. The 28-year-old right-hander also had the ligament replaced in 2003.

``Texas is a really good team,'' Soria said during a conference call. ``I believe we can win the World Series. That's one of the main reasons I chose Texas.''

Soria will be a setup man for Joe Nathan with the Rangers, who won consecutive AL pennants in 2010 and 2011 before losing the AL wild-card game this year. Texas also appealed to Soria because its spring training camp is in Arizona, where he has a home.

``He had opportunities. He could have gone somewhere else and closed,'' Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. ``The fact that he was willing to come here and set up speaks in volumes.''

Before becoming a free agent, Soria spoke with the Royals, his team since Kansas City took him from San Diego at the 2006 winter meeting draft.

``The offer was not even close to what I was looking for,'' he said.

Soria's deal includes a team option for 2015.

``He got a great review on his physical today,'' Daniels said. ``Obviously, he's eight months off of surgery. He's still got a ways to go to get back, but pretty much it was as good a review as it possibly could have been. He's throwing out to 105 feet, and he's still got a throwing progression before he gets up on the mound. But he's put on some good weight during his rehab. He's working out in physiotherapy in Phoenix and an aggressive projection is possibly being back in May. We're encouraging him to take it slow and get it right, because when he's right he's such an impactful piece in the `pen.''

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Bradley Beal thoroughly impressed by LeBron James after being his teammate at All-Star Game

Bradley Beal thoroughly impressed by LeBron James after being his teammate at All-Star Game

As a member of the Washington Wizards, Bradley Beal has had many battles with LeBron James over the years, first with the Miami Heat and now with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Over the weekend, Beal got to experience having James as a teammate for the first time at the All-Star Game in Los Angeles.

It was an eye-opening endeavor. Beal got to see up close and personal James' abilities and his routine to maximize them. In a group of the best players on the planet, James stood out.

"It was surreal at first, just being around all the guys," Beal said. "Even just being on his team for two days, that was an unbelievable experience."

PODCAST: BIGGEST STORYLINES COMING OUT OF ALL-STAR BREAK

Beal, 24, is six seasons in to his NBA career and from experience has learned how to train for the rigors of an 82-game regular season. What James does at 33 years old to stay in peak form, however, is next level.

"To see his preparation, his focus and his mentality and what he does to take care of his body before and after games," Beal said. "That's the true testament to a Hall of Famer and one of the best to ever play the game."

James actually assisted Beal's first points in the All-Star Game, a two-handed dunk in the first quarter. James attacked the rim on a fastbreak to draw attention, then found Beal with a dump-off pass for an easy bucket.

RELATED: WIZARDS HAVE BIG QUESTIONS TO ANSWER IN SECOND HALF

It was an example of James' tricks of the trade. He is not just the most athletic player on the court, he is also the smartest when it comes to the game of basketball.

"His approach and his leadership and everything, it's top notch. It's crazy because you always play against him and to play with him, you get experience the other side of it," Beal said.

Beal, however, did note that much of what he gleaned from James was by watching him. At the end of the day, they are competitors and James isn't going to give away all of his secrets.

"He's not disclosing that information," Beal joked.

The Wizards happen to play James and the Cavs in their first game back from the All-Star break on Thursday night. Once again, Beal will be on the other side. 

RELATED: 2018 NBA MOCK DRAFT HAS LOADED CLASS

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Walt Williams talks Wizards, his NBA career and life after basketball

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NBC Sports Washington

Wizards Tipoff podcast: Walt Williams talks Wizards, his NBA career and life after basketball

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, Chase Hughes was joined by former NBA player Walt Williams for a wide-ranging discussion. Williams talked about the Wizards, his show on NBC Sports Washington and his playing career.

Williams also projected the NBA prospects of Maryland Terrapins stars Bruno Fernando and Kevin Huerter.

You can listen to the episode right here:

You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!