Hottovy still not 100%
Nearly a month after he finally tested negative for COVID-19, Cubs pitching coach Tommy Hottovy is still feeling the effects of his battle with the virus.
Hottovy, who turned 39 on July 9, was sick for 30 days before testing negative. Along the way, he developed pneumonia and nearly was put on a ventilator. In a memorable Zoom session with reporters on July 1, he was unable to tell his story without coming to tears several times. That was a little over two weeks after testing negative, and he estimated he was at about 80% physically.
After Monday’s team workout at Wrigley Field — which took place without manager David Ross — Hottovy gave an update on how he’s doing.
“I feel better every day and, actually being outside and being on my feet so long, I feel like I’m getting stronger,” he said. “I’m exhausted by the end of the day, but I do feel like I’m getting stronger, absolutely.’’
Still not 100%, though. A thin guy to begin with, Hottovy lost about 20 pounds while ill.
“I’m continuing to do some tests and make sure that everything is good,” he said. “I’m getting good readings from all that stuff, so it’s giving me more confidence to be out there.”
Ross and five other Tier 1 individuals — that’s the group that includes players, coaches and other essential on-field personnel — missed the workout, which started in the morning, while waiting for delayed results of tests taken Saturday.
Late in the afternoon, the Cubs learned that the tests of Ross and four others came back negative. The sixth test — which didn’t involve Ross or a player — was “compromised,” according to a source, and remained pending.
No Cubs player has tested positive since intake screening began before preseason workouts started. President Theo Epstein believes there have been “big strides” taken after “initial hiccups” in MLB’s testing program.
“There’s a bit of a trade-off sometimes between timing and accuracy,” Epstein said. “And we would prefer accuracy.”
Much is made of Ross’ zestful side, and give him credit: Wrigley was quieter without him on the field than it had been.
“It was a little weird without David here because he’s all around us and gives us the support that we need every single day,” catcher Willson Contreras said. “That’s something that’s special for this team.”
No doubt the empty stands have something to do with it, but Ross so far has had a far louder voice — speaking purely in terms of volume here — than predecessor Joe Maddon. From the press box above, it has been easy to hear Ross shouting from the dugout, addressing his team on the grass or even chanting to himself.
“We have nervous energy,” Ross said over the weekend. “Well, I guess I’m speaking for myself.”
Quintana coming along
From everything Hottovy has heard, starting pitcher Jose Quintana is on track to start throwing again later this week. The lefty sliced a nerve in his pitching thumb June 27 while washing dishes.
Quintana has kept up with shoulder programs and other upper-body and conditioning exercises, but how soon he’ll be able to join the rotation after games begin July 24 remains one of the biggest questions facing the team.
Alec Mills has looked good enough in camp to be considered the heavy favorite to start in Quintana’s place. Duane Underwood, who looked like a world-beater in Sunday’s intrasquad scrimmage, striking out six in relief, could step into the role Mills was expected to play in long relief.
It’s an important one, too, considering starters aren’t expected to eat the usual number of innings after such a short ramp-up to Opening Day.
Pitching coach Tommy Hottovy chats with Duane Underwood, who looked like a world-beater Sunday.