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Cubs coach Tommy Hottovy details experience with coronavirus - The Washington Post
Cubs pitching coach Tommy Hottovy is recovering from a severe case of covid-19 that left him quarantined for 30 days. (Gregory Bull/AP)
By Michael Errigo
Reporter covering high school sports.
Email Bio FollowJuly 1 at 6:57 PM
As Major League Baseball teams face the risks and uncertainty of playing the shortened 2020 season amid a pandemic, the Chicago Cubs need only turn to their pitching coach to learn about the challenges of covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
In a radio interview Wednesday, Tommy Hottovy detailed his month-long experience with the virus, which he contracted in May. According to the former pitcher, his ordeal included a trip to the hospital, viral pneumonia and six straight days of a fever. It took him 30 days to produce a negative test, and he lost 18 pounds.
“It is important to understand that, guys, I’m 38 years old,” Hottovy told the Mully & Haugh Show on Chicago’s 670 the Score. “I’ve been poked, prodded, tested for the last 16 years in Major League Baseball. I’ve had no underlying issues, nothing that would red flag me as somebody that would get hit pretty hard with this virus. But I did. My journey through this virus was not like ones you hear of younger people who are asymptomatic or only have it for a few days. I got crushed.”
Hottovy’s symptoms were mild at first, but at the start of the second week he developed “COVID pneumonia.” He had trouble breathing and ran a near-constant fever. On the 12th day, it got bad enough that he drove to the hospital.
“I was able to be released later in the day, and a lot of that was because they needed the room for people that were worse than I was,” he said. “And actually going to the hospital and seeing what the front-line workers and the hospitals were dealing with, honestly it’s eye-opening.”
Hottovy said that even today, more than six weeks after the onset of his symptoms, he experiences shortness of breath and his cardiovascular health is “nowhere near” where it was before he got sick.
In a video conference call with reporters later Wednesday, Hottovy elaborated on the mental and physical grind of his experience.
“I went through some really weird stages throughout the whole process,” Hottovy said. “Depression. Thinking that I did do something wrong. How could I put my family in that situation?”
He is not sure how or when he got the virus, saying he had been taking precautions and only leaving the house whenever necessary. Hottovy self-quarantined in his family’s guest room, and his wife and children never got sick. He kept the team’s pitching staff updated on his progress, trying to keep the group’s weekly Zoom meetings going.
“It was good to be an example,” he said to 670 the Score. “I didn’t want to be an example, but it was good to be an example for our guys because they were following with me. … They saw the progression of it.”
[As MLB players report to summer camps, the sport braces for more positive tests]
Cubs players reported to Wrigley Field for summer training camp Wednesday. None of Chicago’s players have opted out of this year’s 60-game season, but Hottovy said he considered that option. He chose to participate, though, in the hopes that his experience will help the team if someone else gets sick.
“There is going to be positive tests,” he said. “There’s really very little way to avoid it. We’re going to do everything in our power as an organization to make sure we have protocols to protect ourselves, but I need to be there for them.”
Hottovy acknowledged his severe case was unusual but also emphasized that “it’s not out of the realm for people in my age group to have symptoms like that.”
“I just want people to understand that you can do everything you can and be real cautious and still get it,” he said. “It just happens.”
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