ST. LOUIS -- The majority of the Rangers relievers have something to talk about while they are in St. Louis. Five of the seven are from towns that are within a day's drive of Busch Stadium.
Kyle McClellan is from the St. Louis suburb of Hazelwood, while Neal Cotts is from the small town of Lebanon on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River. Ross Wolf grew up on a farm in central Illinois, a few hours to the east, and Jason Frasor, who was born in Chicago, pitched at Southern Illinois in Carbondale, which is about 100 miles southeast. Robbie Ross is from Northern Kentucky.
"It's interesting because this is a big football area, or basketball," Wolf said. "It's too cold to play baseball. It's still cold in March and then you have to deal with spring rains. Like Iowa, their state baseball playoffs are in July. Baseball is a hard sport to play unless you have an indoor facility."
The town of Lebanon only has 3,000 people, and Cotts wasn't really discovered until he pitched at Illinois State University.
"There's some antique stores, two or three bars and four or five churches, and some farmland," Cotts said. "That's about it."
But his family had the opportunity to see him pitch on Friday night. Cotts pitched a scoreless eighth inning and earned his fourth victory when the Rangers ended up with a 6-4 win.
"It's exciting to get to throw in front of your family and friends and they have to root against the team they love at least for a few batters," Cotts said.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.