Cotts given unconditional release

Chapman, Gustave optioned to Minor League camp

March 25th, 2016
Neal Cotts allowed five hits, two walks and two runs in 7 1/3 innings. (AP)

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- With multiple pitchers vying for the last bullpen spot, left-hander Neal Cotts was given his unconditional release by the Astros on Friday.

"Cotts fell behind a couple of guys in the competition, so we thought it was the right thing to do for a veteran to come out and have a week to find a new team to potentially make," manager A.J. Hinch said following the Astros' 1-1 tie with the Braves.

Cotts, who went 1-0 with a 2.45 ERA in seven appearances, allowed five hits, two walks and two runs in 7 1/3 innings. Both runs were earned March 9 against the Atlanta Braves, when first baseman Freddie Freeman smashed a two-run homer off Cotts.

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In 2015, Cotts made 51 appearances for the Milwaukee Brewers and 17 appearances for the Minnesota Twins, throwing 63 1/3 innings. Despite surrendering 12 home runs, Cotts' ERA was 3.41.

The Astros also cut pitchers Kevin Chapman and Jandel Gustave, optioning them to Minor League camp. Chapman has pitched 47 innings with a 3.26 ERA for Houston since 2013. Gustave spent last season with Double-A Corpus Christi, where his ERA was 2.15 in 58 2/3 innings.

As of Friday's cuts, the Astros have 18 pitchers, four catchers, 11 infielders and seven outfielders remaining in big league camp, 12 of which are non-roster invites.

Around the horn

• Ken Giles followed Dan Straily's start on Friday with a perfect inning, inducing three groundouts.

Danny Worth doubled in his first two at-bats, but he was stranded in the third and doubled off in the sixth. He is now 11-for-32 (.344) this spring with four doubles and two homers.