7/19/2014 12:47 A.M. ET
Soto makes season debut
By Chris Toman / Special to MLB.com
TORONTO -- Rangers catcher Geovany Soto, freshly activated off the 60-day disabled list, was behind the plate for his season debut in Friday's series opener against the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.
Soto, slotted into the No.9 spot in the order, missed the entire first half of the season after tearing the lateral meniscus cartilage in his right knee -- an injury which required surgery -- during Spring Training. The 31-year-old appeared in 11 games on a rehab assignment with Double-A Frisco and Triple-A Round Rock, hitting a combined .200 across the two levels.
"My knee feels good," Soto said. "Tightness is going to come. I felt great down there. I know it's not big league pitching, but it is still good pitching. I worked really hard to get back and I'm ready to help my team win."
The plan is for Soto and Robinson Chirinos to receive the bulk of playing time behind the plate for the Rangers, who also have catchers J.P. Arencibia and Chris Gimenez on the active roster. With the logjam at catcher, Arencibia will primarily be used as a first baseman, where he got the start Friday after getting his contract purchased from Round Rock on Thursday.
Soto, whom the Rangers acquired from the Cubs in a 2012 deal, hit .245/.328/.466 with nine homers last season.
Martinez reports no setbacks in bullpen session
TORONTO -- Right-hander Nick Martinez threw a bullpen session at Rogers Centre on Thursday night during a club workout and came out of it with no reported setbacks.
Martinez, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list on July 8 -- retroactive to July 2 -- with discomfort in his left side, is scheduled to throw again Saturday and could potentially be activated for Texas' four-game set against the Yankees in New York starting Monday.
"It went great, I had no issues whatsoever," said Martinez, who is 1-6 with a 5.10 ERA over 16 games and 11 starts. "I didn't feel like I was being held back or anything. I felt pretty free and nothing was in the back of my mind."
Martinez is aiming to throw roughly 40 pitches in his next bullpen session and would start either Monday or Tuesday, Rangers manager Ron Washington said, providing the young pitchers encounter no issues.
Right-hander Miles Mikolas, 0-2 with a 10.05 ERA over three starts, will get the ball on one of those days, Washington said, but exactly when will be determined by Martinez's status.
"[Martinez] is not complaining about anything," Washington said. "If the recovery is good, he's on his way."
If Martinez is unable to start in New York, Washington named left-hander Ryan Feierabend and righty Scott Baker as potential options.
Feierabend has appeared in one game with the Rangers this season after going 8-5 with a 4.54 ERA in 19 starts at Triple-A Round Rock. Baker, meanwhile, is 0-3 over 15 appearances (four starts) with a 6.24 ERA.
Ex-Jay Arencibia responds to boos with home run
TORONTO -- J.P. Arencibia felt right at home when he stepped to the plate at Rogers Centre as an opposing player for the first time on Friday, greeted by a chorus of boos.
The former Blue Jay, who was non-tendered by Toronto in the offseason after spending parts of four years with the club, proved as much in his third plate appearance of the night.
Arencibia smoked a first-pitch offering from Toronto starter R.A. Dickey on a line to left field for his second homer of the season to put the Rangers ahead 5-0 and silence the crowd of 38,012.
"I view it as they cared for me," Arencibia said of the boos, following the Rangers' 5-1 series-opening win. "It's definitely better as an opposing player if you get booed.
"I have a lot of great memories here and that's definitely not going to do anything to take it away. It's kind of flattering when they boo you, it gives you a little bit more fire."
After serving as Toronto's starting catcher for three seasons from 2011-13 and averaging over 20 homers a year, Arencibia returned to Toronto as Texas' starting first baseman.
In four trips to the plate, he went 1-for-3 with a season-high three RBIs and was hit by a pitch in the fifth, later coming around to score on Rougned Odor's triple.
Rangers manager Ron Washington is hoping Arencibia can build off Friday's game.
"I hope it gives him confidence. He certainly didn't lack it when he arrived here from the Minor Leagues," the skipper said. "It was nice for him to come through right there. It was big, it was huge. Getting hit by the pitch was huge, too. He had a good night back.
"It has got to continue. At least he gives us some threat in that lineup."
Arencibia, who had his contract purchased from Triple-A Round Rock on Thursday, had an up-and-down ride with the Blue Jays, who selected him in the first round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft.
"This is where it all started for me," Arencibia said. "I have a lot of memories. This is home for me. It was home for me for a long time. I spent a lot of hours in this dome, in this city. It's different to come back but I'm excited to be back."
Arencibia became an instant fan favorite in Toronto after going 4-for-5 with two home runs in his Major League debut at Rogers Centre back in August 2010. His relationship with the fan base strengthened due to his active community work, but took a downward turn as a result of his struggling play in 2013 -- he hit .194 with a .227 on-base percentage -- and well-documented social media and radio spats with Toronto reporters.
The 28-year-old steered away from answering pregame questions about the rocky times leading up to his departure with the Blue Jays, choosing instead to focus on the positives.
"All the people that no one really knows about that make this thing go, that's what's most special for me, that when I walk through these hallways, all of them are excited for me to be back," Arencibia said. "I always wanted to treat everyone the way I wanted to be treated myself. There's a lot people I feel like I made a positive influence on, and if it's one person, I think you're doing a good job and I think I was able to do it to more than one."
Arencibia is back for his second stint with the Rangers after hitting .279/.320/.542 with 14 homers and 41 RBIs in Triple-A. With a logjam behind the plate -- the Rangers now have four catchers on the active roster -- the plan is for Arencibia to receive the majority of his playing time at first base.
The Florida native broke camp with the Rangers but was optioned to Triple-A in mid-May after hitting .133 with a .182 on-base percentage over 20 games and 66 plate appearances.
Rangers wrap up Draft signings with 22nd pick Martin
TORONTO -- The Rangers wrapped up their 2014 First-Year Player Draft by signing their 22nd-round pick, third baseman Tripp Martin from Samford University, prior to Friday's deadline.
Martin's signing bumped the number of players Texas agreed to terms with to 28 out of 40 selections. The Rangers signed their first 12 picks and 15 of their first 16.
Texas selected right-hander Luis Ortiz and shortstop Ti'Quan Forbes with its first two picks and ended the Draft by taking lefty Nick Dignacco in the 40th round.
Ortiz, a 6-foot-3, 220-pounder, went 5-3 with a 1.04 ERA and 72 strikeouts in 43 2/3 innings at Sanger High School in California. The Rangers reached a $1.75 million signing bonus agreement with the high schooler. The pick value at No. 30 was $1,760,500.
Forbes, meanwhile, batted .427 with three home runs and 32 RBIs as a senior for Columbia High School in Columbia, Mississppi. He signed an overslot deal for $1.2 million (the assigned value of the No. 59 pick was $957,900).
Right-hander Gabe Gonzalez, selected in the 13th round, was the highest pick that the Rangers didn't come to terms with.
• Shin-Soo Choo will not play the outfield at all during the Rangers' three-game series in Toronto, manager Ron Washington said. Choo served as the club's designated hitter Friday and is likely to get a day off in order for third baseman Adrian Beltre to get a game at DH.
Washington, like many opposing managers, has concerns about the AstroTurf playing surface at Rogers Centre.
"This is bad turf," Washington said. "My body hurts and all I've been doing is hitting fungos."
• Rangers Minor League field coordinator Jayce Tingler will serve as Texas' first-base coach during the club's three-game set in Toronto. First-base coach Bengie Molina missed the trip for personal reasons and will rejoin the team in New York.
• Second baseman Rougned Odor will now wear uniform No. 12. He previously wore No. 73.
• Carlos Pena has cleared outright waivers and been assigned to Round Rock. He has accepted the assignment.
Chris Toman is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.