MIAMI — Former assistant general manager A.J. Preller has swooped in for his first hire from the Texas Rangers’ front office, plucking longtime friend Don Welke to be the Senior Vice President of Scouting with the San Diego Padres.The Preller-Welke reunion should come as no surprise, and the Rangers granted the Padres permission to interview the 72-year-old. Welke started his new job Tuesday, and his first assignment was to watch the Padres’ Double A affiliate, San Antonio, play the Rangers’ affiliate in Frisco.San Diego hired Preller on Aug. 6 to be their GM, but the Rangers had put in place a two-year freeze before Preller could raid the Rangers’ staff. The caveat, though, was that the Rangers could grant permission if asked.Welke worked for the Rangers in 2005 and rejoined them in 2007 after a year in Philadelphia under Hall of Fame GM Pat Gillick. Gillick allowed Welke to make his own decision then, and the Rangers followed the same course.“It’s been very special working with the group,” he said. “We built it into something special. I think it’s good now even with all the injuries.”General manager Jon Daniels has been one of the members of the Rangers’ front office picking up the duties Preller vacated. He and Welke were key members of the Rangers’ operation in Latin America, though health issues have limited Welke from traveling there much the past few years.The Rangers are working on restructuring their front office, Daniels said. Mike Daly, who spent seven years in Latin America before becoming farm director last off-season, will continue to assist there but will remain focused on the farm system.