Former Tewksbury resident and star pitcher Scott Oberg is healthy and gearing up for the 2021 season with the Major League Baseball team the Colorado Rockies.
Oberg broke into the majors in April of 2015 and missed parts of the 2016 and all of last year due to reoccurring blood clots in his pitching arm. Back on September 23, he had thoracic outlet surgery (TOS) and has been working his way back to form as the team started spring training in Arizona this past week.
“I am feeling good. I haven’t had any hiccups. The recovery, the wintertime went well for me; so, I am excited to be where I’m at at this current moment,” Oberg said last Thursday to Joelle Milolm of the Purple Row website. “The thought process is just continue to progress, continue to up the intensity, work my way into games, and then be ready for the season. This is the time of year when we get to start back up again, start our jobs again, play baseball again; there is a lot of excitement in the air.”
The surgery, which Oberg described in detail to the Town Crier last fall, included the removal of his top right side rib, was successful and since then, Oberg started his rehabilitation process, with light weights, light throwing and has progressed over the winter months.
In 2018, Oberg had a terrific second half of the season and helped the Rockies get into the post-season as he was the winning pitcher in the wildcard play-in game.
In 2019, he was one of the top relievers in all of MLB and again was a big reason for the Rockies making it back to the playoffs. That season he was 6-1 with a 2.25 ERA in 56 games.
If healthy, this season, the plan is for Oberg to be one of the back-end relief pitchers once again, joining former Red Sox pitcher Daniel Bard as a 1-2 punch. Last year without Oberg, the Rockies’ bullpen had a MLB worse 6.77 ERA.
In Milolm’s story, it was pointed out that according to the Rocky Mountain Brain and Spine Institute, “A study in 2017 assessed 14 MLB pitchers undergoing TOS surgery, 77% returned to MLB after an average ~ 11 months following surgery. Pre and postoperative career data showed no significant differences in traditional pitching metrics, including ERA, WHIP, and strikeout-to-walk ratios.”
The article went on to say that, “the Rocky Mountain Brain and Spine Institute also notes that some pitchers have fashioned jewelry out of their removed ribs or just carried them around as good luck charms. In January, Oberg stated detailed plans for his rib, which was at the time in a cabinet in his house in Sewell, N.J.”
“I talked to the doctor, and he saved it for me,” Oberg told MLB.com’s Thomas Harding. “My next-door neighbor is a pathologist, so he took that to work, cleaned it up for me and threw it in formaldehyde, and that’s where it is currently. It’s probably about three inches in length, so I can probably end up making it into a paperweight.”
With the souvenir all set, Oberg hopes his health woes are behind him and he can move forward with this season.
“The thought process is just to continue to progress and continue to up the intensity and work my way into games,” Oberg said to Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post.
Oberg told Saunders that “doctors and Rockies trainers will continue to monitor his health and he’ll get ultrasound tests on the arm throughout the season to measure the bloodflow in his arm.”
It also appears as if Oberg has taken on more responsibility as one of the team’s leaders. In a messy off-season that saw the Rockies unload third baseman Nolan Arenado, Oberg as well as a few other veterans addressed the entire team when they all got together in Arizona.
“You never want to see a clubhouse go 25, 26 different directions,” Oberg said to Saunders. “We wanted to make sure that (we) reiterated some of the team goals, some of the team values. You know, ‘Hey look, we lost one of our brothers. We lost one of our guys. But we still have jobs to do.’”