Colorado Rockies fans have seen the value of Scott Oberg on the field as a set-up man or closer out of the bullpen. However, the right-hander also currently plays another pivotal role for the team.
Scott Oberg, along with outfielder Charlie Blackmon, serves as the club’s acting player representative. He was also the collective voice for Colorado Rockies players on Thursday during a media briefing no one would have predicted a month ago.
And with the coronavirus pandemic having halted spring training and delaying the start of the regular season for at least two weeks, the 15th-round selection for the Rockies in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, assumes a key role for the team as MLB officials continue to discuss the latest steps to take in dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak.
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Oberg talked to media Thursday afternoon at the Rockies spring training complex in Scottsdale, Ariz., about the continually evolving coronavirus situation and the effects on plans to continue preparations for the 2020 MLB regular season.
“I think long term we’re just going to continue to listen to the information that we’re getting from the club, Major League Baseball, the PA, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), federal government, (and) local and state officials,” he said.
“On a short-term basis, it’s more of kind of wait-and-see right now,” he added. “Moving forward, we’re just going to kind of take it a day at a time, make sure that we have some common sense direction in how we approach this. We have been advised by the club to continue to listen to what they are telling us.
“Once we get some more information, we’ll be able to hopefully make some better choices and better decisions. But I think, as of right now, let’s just make the best decisions that we can for the Rockies as a club, for the guys individually, for our families, and just kind of go from there.”
With the uncertain status for the start of the regular season, Oberg said several approaches are possible for Colorado players to prepare for the upcoming campaign.
“I have already run through some ideas in my head, but it just kind of depends on where this thing goes,” the native of Tewksbury, Mass., said.
“If we’re here and we’re able to work out at the (spring training) facility, it should be fairly easy. If we are not allowed to come in but we have to stay out here then that might create some issues. Maybe it’s something where guys are getting together finding a park or something like that and doing what they have to do. If we end up being allowed to go back to our respective homes then maybe it’s kind of going back to what we had done previously getting geared up for spring training, kind of like typical offseason stuff.”
For Oberg, who is battling back this spring from a blood clot in his right (pitching) arm that ended his 2019 season last August, the suspension of spring training and delay to the start of the regular season poses concerns for him individually.
“Personally, I have reached out to my doctors back home for advice,” said Oberg, who had been used sparingly in spring training seeing action in three games. He did not allow a run in 2.2 innings on the mound while allowing just three hits and fanning three.
“I am still waiting to hear back from them,” added Oberg, who tossed a scoreless sixth inning (needing only nine pitches to record three outs) in the team’s 5-5 tie with Cincinnati on Tuesday afternoon in what ended up being the team’s final game action before spring training was halted.
“I am just going to continue to wash my hands and do all the things that the CDC (says) and the guidelines that have been out there and just try to follow those to the ’T’ and go from there.”
With all the question marks that loom at this stage, Rockies fans hope that Oberg will be able to return to the form that has produced earned run averages of 2.45 and 2.25 in the last two seasons, leading to Oberg signing a contract extension in December that extends through 2022.