Cubs pitching coach Tommy Hottovy details his battle with COVID-19

Tommy Hottovy / Chicago Cubs (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
Tommy Hottovy / Chicago Cubs (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images) /

Cubs pitching coach Tommy Hottovy was leveled by the coronavirus recently.

As the Chicago Cubs report to Summer Camp at Wrigley Field, the cloud of COVID-19 still hangs over not just the Windy City, but virtually the entire world. There’s no cure in sight and infection rates have spiked across the United States.

More often than not, people point to decreased hospitalization and fatality rates in younger individuals as a reason to believe the coronavirus is being somehow blown out of proportion. Cubs pitching coach Tommy Hottovy, a 38-year-old former big leaguer, is here to tell you – and the players reporting to camp – otherwise.

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"“Having gone through it and having lived it to an extent,” Hottovy said, “I do think it’s important for me and our family to be accessible to these guys and be … I don’t want to say be an example, but be someone that they can use as a resource through this whole process.”"

Hottovy lost nearly 20 pounds and experienced a wide range of symptoms during his battle with COVID-19, including a high fever, body aches, a shortness of breath and sleeplessness – not to mention the emotional and mental toll of being separated from his wife and kids.

As officials urge individuals to wear face coverings, if not for themselves, but those around them, Hottovy said one of the toughest parts of this was not knowing how he became infected – and worrying about passing the virus to his family.

"“I went through some really, really weird stages through this whole process,” he said, “thinking that, ‘Did I do something wrong? How could I have put my family in that kind of situation?'”"

So why does this all matter? The Cubs reported to Wrigley Field on Wednesday – and are set to begin team workouts on Friday in anticipation of Opening Day on July 23-24. Hottovy wants these guys to understand that the threat is real and they all have to make sure to have one another’s backs this season if the team is to make it through the 60-game slate unscathed in terms of infection.

We’re all hopeful we see Major League Baseball return this year. There have already been players who’ve opted out of the season in the wake of the risks presented by the coronavirus and there will undoubtedly be more. But at the end of the day, a story like this one gives us all some perspective: the health of the baseball community has to come first – period.

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"“If my story and my journey through this helps one person realize how severe this can get,” Hottovy said, “and if that saves one life, then I want my story to be heard, you know?”"