Reliever Cotts added to big league camp

Reliever Cotts added to big league camp

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Neal Cotts received a promotion on Monday. The Rangers have added him to their big league camp.

A few weeks ago he was studying finance at Illinois State. Now he is officially a candidate to win a job in the Rangers' bullpen, despite not having pitched in the Major Leagues since 2009.

"It's definitely an opportunity to get back in the swing of things," Cotts said. "Physically I feel I can pitch. I don't know at what level, but for the last two years I felt I could get back out there. The medical issues held me back."

Cotts' last game in the Majors was with the Cubs on May 25, 2009. He had Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery on July 2, 2009, but that wasn't the biggest problem. In 2010, he had four different surgeries on his right hip.

That's what scared most teams away and Cotts was resigned to completing his college degree before the Rangers were willing to give him a chance. They signed him to a Minor League contract right before Spring Training, but without an invitation to camp. He did pitch in the intrasquad game last Friday and a scoreless inning convinced the Rangers to bring him to big league camp.

"I had a lot of no's before these guys were interested," Cotts said. "It's just fun to get out there and compete again."

He pitched the sixth inning against the Royals and allowed two runs on four singles. Mitch Stetter, another left-handed relief candidate, allowed two runs on three hits in the fifth inning. Alex Gordon, in a lefty vs. lefty matchup, hit a home run off him.

"We're just looking for results, that's all," manager Ron Washington said after the 7-6 loss. "We're looking at how they throw the ball. We didn't do too well against lefties today, but it was the first time out there."