Neal Cotts was taking college classes again, making a two-hour drive twice a week to Illinois State. He was 32 years old and it was nearly three years after his last major league appearance.
Then the left-hander got an unexpected extra chance with the Texas Rangers, and Cotts has made a quite a comeback.
After getting called up last May, Cotts appeared in 58 of the Rangers' remaining 118 games. He matched the major league lead with eight relief victories, and his 1.11 ERA was the lowest for a reliever in franchise history.
Cotts already had appeared in 284 career major league games for Chicago, with the White Sox in 2003-06 and the Cubs in 2007-09, before not pitching in 2010 and 2011. He was part of a World Series title in 2005, and as a 25-year-old reliever appeared in all four games as the White Sox swept Houston after going 4-0 with a 1.94 ERA in 69 regular-season games.
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