Neal Cotts has been through a lot the last three years.
A World Series champion with the White Sox in 2005, Cotts had Tommy John surgery in 2009. While recovering, he suffered a torn labrum in his hip that also required surgery. That resulted in an infection that forced Cotts to undergo three more surgeries and miss all of the 2010 season. He didn't play in 2011 after being released by the Yankees, but was invited by the Rangers to their Minor League camp this spring.
"The Rangers decided to take a chance. I'm not sure why," Cotts said. "I really had no options. Nobody gave me a job. I'm just trying to make the most of the opportunity. I know I was grateful to get it."
Cotts, who previously considered retiring, performed well enough in Minor League camp to get moved up to the Rangers' big league camp during Spring Training, posting a 4.22 ERA in nine appearances, striking out seven and walking three. He didn't allow a run in his last four outings, becoming a candidate to make the Rangers' 25-man roster. But he suffered another setback, straining a lat muscle as rookie Robbie Ross earned a spot on the Rangers' Opening Day roster.
"It was definitely frustrating," Cotts said. "I went into the spring with no expectations. I thought I competed pretty well during the spring. Stuff happens. You just have to roll with the punches."
Cotts is finally back on the mound, making three appearances so far this season, allowing one run in 3 1/3 innings while striking out five and walking three for Triple-A Round Rock.
"Physically, I feel good," Cotts said. "My location's been a little off in the first two outings. The pitches are there but there's been a couple walks and I've been fallen behind people. Other than that, health-wise, I feel good."
A native of Illinois, Cotts played at Illinois State and spent four seasons with the White Sox, followed by three more with the Cubs. He hasn't been in Texas long, but he's enjoyed his time in the Lone Star State.
"I like it so far," Cotts said. "It's a little warm but the facility here is beautiful. I've only been here about five days. So far, so good."