Ottavino talks Tommy John rehab in '16 Weeks' short
DENVER -- Adam Ottavino expects to complete rehab from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow and relive what he called "the time of my life" -- closing games for the Rockies. But since May, when he underwent the surgery, he has spent a lot of time either alone or with Rockies rehab coordinator Scott Murayama.
This week, Ottavino shared that lonely time with the world through a video, "16 Weeks," posted on The Players' Tribune website. It's the best 6 minutes and 7 seconds on some of the worst five months of his baseball life.
Soundtracked by the 1957 Miles Davis cover of "'Round Midnight," the classic composed by pianist Theloneous Monk, Ottavino gave a glimpse of what it's like to be sidelined and separated from a club because his main tool -- in his case, his arm -- isn't working. With the club's blessing and Murayama's cooperation, Ottavino recorded the video with a GoPro camera to stay as discreet as possible.
"I was on the plane ride home after getting the surgery, and I decided right then and there that I wanted to do it," Ottavino said. "I didn't have a particular story in mind."
Ottavino said he regretted not coming up with the idea before the surgery, but the final product offers plenty.
Early scenes picture Ottavino, alone in the clubhouse, having to remove his shirt and tie his shoes and do life's little tasks with only his left hand. He offers clip after clip of repetitive exercise with little or no weight, underwater, or with Murayama manipulating his arm. He splices in shots of doing movement and running exercises, illustrating that he is more than just an arm, and that effectiveness involves keeping the whole body in shape.
Ottavino's work represents how The Players' Tribune can go beyond athletes merely presenting themselves. On the surface, Ottavino is another athlete who is going through rehab -- only he's one with some creativity. But he tells a larger story.
All of Ottavino's work is done at Coors Field, where there is constant noise, activity and human presence in the clubhouse, field and off-limits areas, such as the training room and fitness facilities. But beyond a shot of Rockies medical director Dr. Thomas J. Noonan removing stitches, only rarely does anyone other than Ottavino or Murayama appear during the story, which was taped over a four-month period.
The ending was a happy one. An overhead shot from late September depicts Ottavino finally playing catch with Rockies batting practice pitcher Garrett Carson, with Murayama watching closely and Ottavino hugging both at the end. It quietly wrapped up this painful and tedious career chapter.
Ottavino has set a loose target of May to return, but he explained that that's simply based on May 7 being his surgery date. When he is back pitching, fans will soon expect to see the form from the first month of 2015, when he didn't give up a run and converted three saves in 10 outings before the injury occurred.
And when all eyes are on Ottavio, "16 Weeks" will live as a reminder that anything he does will be a product of the work he did when no one was watching.
"Honestly, I wanted to make something that I would be interested in watching," Ottavino said. "I wanted to give a little glimpse of being behind the scenes, and you get a little extra -- something you wouldn't normally expect."