Pitcher Scott Oberg took to Instagram today to announce that he will no longer be pursuing a comeback to the mound. “I have accepted a part-time position with the Rockies and will no longer be pursuing the game I’ve loved my whole life, as a player,” Oberg said in the post. He goes on to thank the many people in his life who helped him in his journey over the years. Danielle Allentuck of the Denver Gazette reports that Oberg will be a special assistant to baseball operations for the Rockies.
Oberg, now 32, was selected by the Rockies in the 15th round of the 2012 draft and made it to the big leagues by 2015. His first three seasons in Colorado featured subpar strikeout rates but he did get huge amounts of ground balls. From 2015 to 2017, he posted a 5.05 ERA while striking out 18.7% of batters he faced but getting worm burners on 55.6% of balls in play.
The next two seasons saw Oberg take a huge step forward as he added punchouts to his repertoire. Over 2018 and 2019, he tossed 114 2/3 frames with a 2.35 ERA, a number that would be impressive anywhere but especially for a pitcher who calls Coors Field home. He struck out 25.5% of batters faced in that time while still getting grounders at a 52.7% clip. Based on that strong performance, the Rockies gave him a three-year, $13MM extension with a club option for 2023.
Unfortunately, Oberg then began a tumultuous period that saw him deal with multiple health issues which have prevented him from taking the mound since then. The primary issue has been blood clots in his right arm, which first sidelined him and led to surgery in 2016. They sent him to the injured list in August of 2019, leading to another surgery and an end to that strong season. That didn’t dissuade the Rockies from agreeing to that extension and Oberg seemed ready to get back on track in 2020 until the issue resurfaced, putting him on the injured list in the shortened season and putting him on the surgeon’s table yet again.
On top of the blood clots, he also required surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome in September of that year. It was hoped that surgery would address the chronic blood clots in his elbow but that didn’t prove to be the case. Allentuck relayed a harrowing story from March of 2021 where the clotting symptoms reappeared and a trainer couldn’t feel a pulse in his wrist. Oberg then spent the night in the ICU and had surgery the next morning, the fourth time he had to go under the knife for the issue.
Though he would not pitch for the Rockies that year, he did serve the team in other ways, doing some scouting and coaching throughout the organization. He didn’t make it back to the mound in 2022 either and the Rockies declined his 2023 option at season’s end.
Oberg has been transitioning into post-playing roles for a while, as mentioned, but his announcement today makes it official that his playing days are done. Though the health issues prevented him from building on some strong momentum, he still managed to get into 259 major league games, racking up 234 strikeouts along the way. He finishes his career with a 3.85 ERA over 257 1/3 innings. MLBTR congratulates him on his successes and wishes him the best in his future endeavors.