Cotts hopes to latch on as lefty reliever with Astros

February 28th, 2016

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Veteran left-hander Neal Cotts' spot on the Astros' Major League roster this year will depend on his ability to get out left-handers. Cotts, who is basically filling the role held by Joe Thatcher last year, was signed to a Minor League deal Friday and had his first workout with the club on Sunday.

"I'm excited, you know," Cotts said. "I'm excited to get back into Spring Training and get back into the flow of things. Obviously, with the success of the team last year, it's an exciting opportunity to try to make this ballclub."

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Cotts has held lefties to a .239 batting average and right-handers to a .244 average for his career, including .186 against left-handers last year (.286 against right-handers). Tony Sipp is the only lefty with a spot in Houston's bullpen sewn up, and Cotts is battling with Edwar Cabrera and Kevin Chapman for a possible second lefty spot.

"Over my career, I've been pretty decent against righties, even though last year that wasn't the case," Cotts said. "You know, I've just got to focus on doing what I can do and seeing where it all pans out at the end -- go out there and get the job done, and when I get the ball at Spring Training, try to do the best I can out there."

Cotts, who was on the 2005 White Sox team that beat the Astros in the World Series, says he signed with Houston because he wants to win.

"The last two years it's been a little different with Milwaukee and Texas on a down year the one year," he said. "It makes it a lot more enjoyable when you're on a team that's going to do something."

Cotts, 35, has spent 10 years in the Major Leagues with the White Sox, Cubs, Rangers, Twins and Brewers. He has made 483 career appearances and has allowed 405 hits in 443 1/3 innings with a 3.96 ERA. He split last year between the Brewers and the Twins, appearing in 68 games.