DENVER -- Rockies relief pitcher Scott Oberg woke up on Aug. 14 feeling and knowing all the warning signs of the blood clot in his right arm that ended the best season of his career.
“I was hoping that it wouldn’t come to this, but I knew I wasn’t sore and I knew I wasn’t hurt,” said Oberg, who underwent a procedure that day and a full vascular surgery in St. Louis last Friday. “It just felt really heavy.
“I did some activities in the morning -- pick up my daughter, go get coffee. My arm just wouldn’t bounce back. It was very heavy, very fatigued. I had to address it.”
The surgery marked the second time in four years that noted St. Louis vascular surgeon Dr. Robert Thompson had to address Oberg’s blood clots. But Oberg, who had genetic testing after the 2016 blood clots that required two procedures, said there is no chronic condition, saying it was just a freakish result of how his body can react to how he makes his living.
While weight training will be delayed, Oberg expects to eventually have a normal throwing program this offseason and be ready for Spring Training in 2020, hoping to capitalize on his 6-1 record and 2.25 ERA with five saves this season.
“It was mechanical back then, mechanical now,” said Oberg, who was in full uniform supporting his teammates before Thursday night’s game against the Pirates. “There are just a lot of things going on in there, in the arm, a lot of things going on in the pitching motion. It’s not a natural motion itself. Sometimes these things happen.”
The first procedure at UCHealth in Denver dissolved and removed the clot in the axillary artery, between the shoulder and the elbow. Last week, the Rockies happened to be traveling to St. Louis, where Oberg saw Thompson, who has performed a more extensive thoracic outlet surgery on many athletes, including former Rockies pitcher Aaron Cook.
Thompson’s procedure at Barnes-Jewish Hospital at Washington University in St. Louis went into the same incision he made before, cleaned scar tissue, dissected the artery and used bovine material to make the artery wider to allow greater blood flow.
“I only care about my health at that point,” Oberg said. “If something’s wrong, we’ve got to take care of it. It doesn’t matter what the numbers on the board say.”
Freeland looking to get back
Rockies manager Bud Black said lefty Kyle Freeland, who is on the injured list with a left groin strain, is pushing to return to action in September to continue the work he has done to regain form.
After a slow start and a lengthy option to Triple-A Albuquerque, Freeland (3-11, 6.98 ERA) began to make progress in his starts before he had to leave his Aug. 20 start with the injury.
“I think it’s very important; Kyle realizes that, too,” Black said. “He wants to pitch. He was becoming comfortable with a number of things he had worked on over the last couple of months. The game in Arizona, where he got hurt, I thought he was throwing the ball great. For him, it would be wonderful to finish up making his starts, working on the things we have worked on -- the changeup, fastball command, some of the delivery things.”
Black said Freeland has increased his workout activity, and he is playing catch. There is no timetable on his return to the rotation.
Hoffman could take hill on Sunday
The Rockies’ next open start is Sunday’s four-game series finale against the Pirates, and though the team has not made an official announcement, all signs point toward right-hander Jeff Hoffman receiving a shot that day. Hoffman was removed from Triple-A Albuquerque’s 3-2 loss to Las Vegas on Wednesday after just two innings.
Hoffman, 26, is 1-4 with a 7.81 ERA in nine Major League starts, and 6-8 with a 7.80 ERA in 17 Triple-A appearances.
Parsons impressing in early outings
In three relief appearances since being claimed off waivers from the Braves, right-hander Wes Parsons has given Black encouraging signs.
“I like his mix of pitches, and I really like what I’m seeing from the fastball -- good carry, and he’s thrown a couple really nice low fastballs with velocity,” Black said. “He’s thrown some breaking balls below the zone. He’s thrown the breaking ball for strikes. He’s thrown a couple good changeups, as well.”