SAN FRANCISCO — Joakim Soria has been traded enough times to understand there are always significant adjustments with a new team, like no longer being a closer now that he has joined the contending Milwaukee Brewers.
For a third time in his 11-year big league career, the reliever has moved to a team in the middle of the playoff chase near the trade deadline. This time, he’ll be part of the NL Central race after the Chicago White Sox traded him to Milwaukee.
“It gets easier. It’s different now, my kids are a little bit grown up now. They understand a little bit more,” Soria said Friday in San Francisco before the Brewers’ game against the Giants.
The White Sox were at the end of a road trip playing the Angels in Anaheim, so Soria needed a new shirt and some underwear to get through his extended West Coast stay. A quick shopping trip was in order in downtown San Francisco near the team hotel Thursday night before he settled in to watch his new team on TV.
“It’s real life,” Soria said.
Manager Craig Counsell knows Soria won’t have any trouble adjusting on the fly in a new place.
“The fact that he’s been through these trades before, he probably could have pushed play on what I was going to talk about,” Counsell said. “He knows what he’s coming into and I respect that he knows what he’s coming into. He’s a veteran reliever. He’s played on a number of teams. He’s been traded at this time of the season. He knows what’s going on.”
Counsell made it clear Soria will be a key member of the bullpen regardless of the inning or situation.
They had a short chat before Friday night’s game against San Francisco.
“He’s going to get big outs for us for sure and we’re going to count on him for big outs,” Counsell said. “I think we’re at a place bullpen-wise where we’ve created a lot of depth and that means we should have good choices every single night.”
Soria is eager to do anything for the Brewers, who already have a closer in Corey Knebel. Counsell said he would like to get Knebel more innings and that might mean not always in the ninth.
“When you start a season and your team is rebuilding and you’re expecting not a good season for the team out of spring training, when you get traded to a contending team, it feels good, it feels that you’ve been wanted,” Soria said.
The 34-year-old right-hander from Mexico was 0-3 with a 2.56 ERA and 16 saves in 40 relief appearances with the rebuilding White Sox this season. He had 49 strikeouts in 38q innings as opponents batted just .230. Over his last 25 outings, Soria posted a 0.74 ERA and held opponents to a .161 batting average with 32 strikeouts in 243 innings.
“I just want to win the championship,” Soria said. “When you come to a new team, you have to adjust to the roles.”
Soria also joins Josh Hader in the Brewers’ bullpen.
On Thursday, the reliever retired four batters to earn a win in a 7-5 victory over the Giants while making his first appearance on the road since the lefty’s years-old racist and homophobic tweets surfaced during the All-Star Game. He was hit with rather subdued boos as he ran in from the bullpen to pitch with two outs in the sixth.
“Like I said before, I can’t control what they’re going to say to me. I’ve made mistakes in my earlier years,” Hader said. “I’ve just got to go out and focus on what I’ve got to do and that’s to get outs and help this team win. I can’t let my mistakes distract me from my job going now. Obviously I don’t like what I said back then and I obviously regret what came out, but we live and we learn as human beings. We’re not perfect. It’s how you learn from what you do and just become a better person from it.”