Rangers purchase contract of left-handed reliever Cotts

Posted Tuesday, May. 21, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Neal Cotts is back in the big leagues for the first time since 2009.

It’s been quite a journey for the 33-year-old left-handed reliever, who had his contract purchased by the Texas Rangers on Tuesday. It served as the corresponding move with Monday’s starter Josh Lindblom being optioned back to Triple A Round Rock.

Cotts has had an injury-plagued ride since last pitching with the Chicago Cubs in ’09. He had Tommy John elbow surgery that ended his ’09 season, and then suffered a torn labrum in his hip that also required surgery.

The hip surgery then had an infection that required three additional surgeries to get rid of it, and Cotts has been fighting an uphill battle ever since.

“There were some definite ups and downs and a period of time where I honestly didn’t think I was going to play anymore,” Cotts said. “I didn’t know if I would have another chance. I’m happy I got the opportunity over here last year and have been able to make it up here today.”

Cotts joined the Rangers on a minor league deal prior to last season, a year after failing a physical with the Yankees in 2011. He almost made the 2012 squad out of spring training, but a lat strain near the end of spring training derailed those plans.

Cotts re-signed with the Rangers this off-season for another shot, and he’s finally got it after a dominant start at Triple A. He had a 0.78 ERA over his first 15 appearances, holding left-handed batters hitless with 22 strikeouts and three walks.

The numbers are reminiscent of Cotts’ best season in the big leagues when he had a 1.94 ERA in 2005 with the White Sox, a team that went on to win the World Series.

“When we had him with the White Sox, he was one of the better left-handers in baseball,” said catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who worked with Cotts in Chicago. “He did a great job in Round Rock and hopefully he can continue to do that here.”

With the addition of Cotts, the Rangers had four left-handers in their bullpen Tuesday. But they’ll have to make another move Wednesday for spot starter Ross Wolf. Left-hander Joseph Ortiz is a likely candidate to return to the minors because he has options remaining.

Tepesch scratched

Right-hander Nick Tepesch has been scratched from Wednesday’s start with a blister on his right middle finger that developed after he threw a slider on his final pitch of his Friday outing.

Tepesch has dealt with blisters before and said they’ve generally gone away by the time his next start rolls around.

“I’m just trying to get it taken care of and get it healthy and get back out there,” Tepesch said.

The Rangers will purchase the contract of Triple A right-hander Ross Wolf to make what appears to be a spot start. Wolf, who has had big-league stints with Miami and Oakland, has a 1.85 ERA over six starts with Round Rock.

“He’s really throwing the ball well,” general manager Jon Daniels said. “We talked about Martin Perez, but wanted to give Martin more time coming off the injury [broken left wrist].”

Tepesch is expected to start Sunday, which would allow the entire rotation to have an extra day with Thursday’s off day. Yu Darvish is slated to start one game of the doubleheader Monday at Arizona, and Wolf, Perez and Josh Lindblom are the leading candidates to start the other.

Briefly

• As expected, the Rangers activated catcher A.J. Pierzynski off the disabled list and optioned Robinson Chirinos to Round Rock.

• Rangers broadcaster Eric Nadel is hosting a Birthday Benefit Concert featuring Ruthie Foster and Daphne Willis at the Kessler Theater on Wednesday night in Dallas. Approximately 50 reserved seats and 100 standing room only tickets remained as of Tuesday afternoon. The concert, which begins at 7:30 p.m., benefits CONTACT, a free 24-hour counseling hot line that anyone can call for any reason at 972-233-2233. Tickets can be purchased at thekessler.org.

• Ivan Rodriguez and Jim Sundberg will be Rangers representatives at this year’s First-Year Player Draft in New York. The three-day draft begins June 6.

• Right-hander Kyle McClellan will be promoted to Triple A Round Rock on Wednesday.

Drew Davison, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @drewdavison

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