Oberg's mind on general health, family

March 30th, 2021

seemed unshakable on Oct. 2, 2018.

Oberg struck out four Cubs -- one to end the 12th inning and all three batters in the 13th -- for his signature career moment, the decision in the Rockies’ 2-1 victory over the Cubs in the National League Wild Card Game at Wrigley Field.

“The one thing that comes to mind was how badly my back leg was shaking every time I lifted my leg to throw a pitch,” Oberg recalled on Monday. “Everything came to a head -- the experiences.”

Those experiences included the disappointment and uncertainty of being sent to the Minors that year, for the fourth straight year. And there were medical experiences -- a bout with psoriatic arthritis at the University of Connecticut that forced him to use a cane to navigate the campus and, even more frightening, blood clots that ended his 2016 season.

“Everything just fell in line -- and super grateful that I got to be the one to be out there, getting the last out for the Rockies, and getting them in and pushing the team forward,” Oberg said. “There are days I think about it.

“There are other days, it doesn't really cross my mind. … I don't try to live in the past as much.”

The present brings another health challenge. Oberg underwent emergency surgery last week at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Ariz., again for blood clots, these in his right elbow.

It’s the fourth time the condition has flared. The recent instance came after Oberg threw four scoreless Cactus League outings to spark hope that he would return to the regular-season mound for the first time since August 2019. When his pitching was halted, Oberg had posted a 2.35 ERA in 105 appearances from 2018-19.

Oberg, who turned 31 on March 13, understands the repeated conditions and procedures have put his career in serious jeopardy. Those decisions will come, but his mind is in a present that is appreciative of the doctors, his teammates and players around baseball, and especially his wife, Dana, who was preparing for a baseball season with the couple’s 2-year-old daughter, Charlotte Rose.

“In general, baseball's always going to be on my mind -- it's been on my mind since I was a kid, and it’ll always be on my mind,” said Oberg, who said he could be quite busy as the Rockies’ player representative with the Collective Bargaining Agreement ending in December. “Currently, my thought process is overall, general health, making sure that I'm there for my family the best that I can be, and taking it slow at this point.

“And getting with the doctors, asking further questions, doing whatever they’re asking me to do moving forward.”

Last fall, Oberg underwent a procedure at the University of Pennsylvania to remove the top rib on his right side, which sparked hopes of correcting the arterial blood clots for good.

Oberg threw well in a B game on Wednesday. But when he played catch Thursday, he knew something was wrong.

“I felt some tightness in the top of my forearm,” Oberg said. “I noticed that my hand had kind of gone white, started to feel numb.”

Shortly thereafter, vascular surgeons in Philadelphia and Scottsdale, who had worked together on other cases, consulted, and a catheter was inserted through Oberg’s groin and worked to the arteries to remove the clots. He was released from Mayo Clinic on Friday.

Oberg was emotional during his Zoom meeting with Denver media on Monday -- but positive. He said he understands that “medical science only goes so far sometimes,” but he realizes there are unknowns.

Out of high school in Tewksbury, Mass., Oberg chose UConn over some bigger scholarship offers and made a lifelong friend and mentor in Huskies coach Jim Penders, with whom he talked to on Sunday.

“He was like, ‘Honestly, thank goodness for the psoriatic arthritis that you went through in college,’ because it prepared me for everything else that was thrown at me,” Oberg said. “It's just the mental approach, the value system that was instilled upon me as a kid, with my brother, by my parents. …

“It's having that solid foundation at a young age to be able to accept some of those things that don't go your way, not to be too upset about things that are out of your control and handle things with grace.

“It seems like a trait that can get you through a lot of difficult times. Certainly, that’s the case for me.”

Winding it down
, finding his swing (.294 batting average), poked a three-run homer against the Padres during a seven-run fourth inning in the Rockies' 10-2 victory at Peoria Stadium in their next-to-last Cactus League game.

It was a day of solid impressions for players on the Opening Day roster bubble:

• Lefty reliever loaded the bases on a hit and two walks but also struck out three in his scoreless inning.

• Righty reliever pitched a scoreless inning and struck out two while allowing one hit.

• Outfielder was 2-for-4 to bring his batting average to .372 while trying to prove he has the bat to go with strong defense.

• Non-roster utility man , hoping there is room for him, went 1-for-4 with a double. He’s batting .351.