Oberg: 'It's just another hurdle to overcome'

August 16th, 2020

DENVER -- Rockies right-handed relief pitcher is back home in Sewell, N.J., with plans to see a third vascular surgeon for answers to the recurring blood clots, which this summer have interrupted his career for a third time.

But Oberg, 30, one of the Majors' top relievers over 2018 and '19, let it be known that his soul is with baseball. Via Instagram on Saturday, he posted a black-and-white picture of his locker, stocked with gear. In the caption, he included part of Robert Frost's poem "The Road Not Taken."

"I've always enjoyed that poem," Oberg said Sunday morning from his home. "It spoke to me on another level. We all take different paths. As big leaguers, we take different paths than the rest of the baseball people. Some of it is a little bit more luck than others. Then there's the journey that I'm on, personally.

"I don't know too many guys that have had three blood clots, that have had Tommy John surgery, that have had psoriatic arthritis and have had shoulder surgery. It's a little bit different than your normal average Major League guy."

The psoriatic arthritis and the Tommy John elbow procedure occurred while he was at the University of Connecticut, the shoulder problem while in Double-A in 2014. But the blood clots, which also ended the 2016 and '19 seasons in August, are a mysterious concern.

Oberg saw limited action in Summer Camp because of a lower-back strain. While trying to work his way to the active roster, he felt numbness in his hand while warming up for an Aug. 2 throwing session at Coors Field. Oberg went ahead with the throwing, but he cut it off at about the halfway point when he couldn't find his grip or control the ball.

"My fingers were starting to turn white a little bit, I wasn't getting blood back to my hand as quickly as I was used to and I really didn't have much of a feel for the ball, even loading up with sticky stuff," Oberg said. "I was pretty certain what was going on. To me there was no other explanation.

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"Definitely heartbreaking at the time to know I had to go through this process again. At first, I was in denial when I was out there trying to throw it. I knew there was something we needed to take care of."

Oberg would spend the night in a local hospital having clots dissolved via a heparin drip, administered through a catheter inserted through his groin, and a follow up procedure to make sure any remaining clots were removed.

Since then, he has consulted with a team of vascular surgeons -- Dr. Robert Thompson, the St. Louis doctor who performed last year's operation, Dr. Donald Jacobs of UCHealth in Denver and Dr. Darren Schneider of the University of Pennsylvania. Oberg said Schneider will be in contact with Thompson and Jacobs, and he will see Schneider on Thursday.

Oberg isn't sure if there is a further operation in the offing. But his heart is set on his message in the Instagram post that included the Frost poem -- that he will be back.

"If this is what it's going to have to be, it's just another hurdle to overcome," Oberg said. "I've dealt with the adversity road plenty of times.

"Those words spoke to me."