LHP Neal Cotts getting second chance

March, 6, 2012
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Neal Cotts figured his baseball career was over.

The 31-year-old left-handed pitcher was busy trying to finish up his final year at Illinois State to earn his degree in finance. After that, he wasn’t sure what kind of business he was going to get into.

“After you hear no quite a few times, eventually you have to do something,” Cotts said.

Cotts had Tommy John surgery July 2, 2009 and missed all of 2010. But his medical issues continued. He had surgery to repair a torn labrum in early 2010 and developed an infection. It took three additional surgeries to get that taken care of.

“That’s why no one wanted to offer me a contract,” Cotts said.

But after the Rangers saw Cotts throw a bullpen session a few weeks before spring training, they decided to give him a chance and add to their list of candidates for a left-handed bullpen spot. He signed a nonroster deal and started camp in the minor league clubhouse. On Monday, the Rangers moved his things to the major league side of the Surprise complex, just a few locker spots down from closer Joe Nathan.

Cotts has thrown the ball well in bullpen sessions, pitched a scoreless inning in the intrasquad game and then pitched in his first Cactus League game Monday. He gave up four hits and two runs, but had two strikeouts and did pitch better against the left-handers he faced. Still, Cotts is happy to be given another chance and knows he must try to make the most of the opportunity the next few weeks.

“To be honest with you, before they called I wasn’t even really preparing to go into spring,” Cotts said. “I hadn’t gotten a lot of calls before these guys invited me.”

Cotts has taken advantage of the opportunity. He’s throwing strikes with all of his pitches -- fastball, cutter, slider, change -- and is now the only player in the Rangers’ clubhouse with a World Series championship ring.

Cotts was a valuable member of the 2005 Chicago White Sox, who swept the Houston Astros to win the title.

“It’s a good opportunity to get back into the swing of things,” Cotts said. “I feel like I can pitch. I don’t know what level yet, but over the last two years I felt like I could get back out there.”
Richard Durrett joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He writes about colleges, the Dallas Stars and the Texas Rangers. Richard spent nine years at The Dallas Morning News covering the Rangers, Stars, colleges, motorsports and high schools.



You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?


Fitzsimmons and Durrett: Jon Daniels

Rangers GM Jon Daniels joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to tackle the tough questions after his team failed to advance to the playoffs.

Galloway & Company: Nolan Ryan

Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss having Nelson Cruz back in the lineup and how the Rangers are feeling heading into their wild-card play-in game against the Rays.

Fitzsimmons & Durrett: Jim Bowden

ESPN Insider and senior MLB analyst Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the wild-card race and the Rangers' chances of making the playoffs.

Fitzsimmons and Durrett: Chuck Cooperstein

Chuck Cooperstein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why he feels Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish isn't an ace.

Galloway & Company: Elvis Andrus

Elvis Andrus joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Rangers' stretch run and the morale level in their clubhouse.

Galloway & Company: Nolan Ryan

Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss the latest Rangers news, including the team's struggles, Ron Washington's job security and a rumored trade with the Braves.

Fitzsimmons & Durrett: Ron Washington

Ron Washington joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss the Rangers' dismal September, who's to blame for their September struggles and his status as the team's manager.

Fitzsimmons & Durrett: Fire Wash?

Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss how some people are calling for the Rangers to fire manager Ron Washington.


Alex Rios
.321 1 10 9
HRS. Choo 2
RBIK. Kouzmanoff 10
RE. Andrus 14
OPSS. Choo .932
WM. Perez 3
ERAY. Darvish 1.61
SOY. Darvish 29