An emotional Chicago Cubs pitching coach Tommy Hottovy is recovering from a severe case of COVID-19 that quarantined him for 30 days.
The 38-year-old Hottovy broke down as he detailed a harrowing ordeal during a conference call on Wednesday. The Cubs resume workouts Friday for the first time since Major League Baseball shut down camps on March 12.
“It's still kind of raw in the fact that we just got through it and to relive it,” said Hottovy, in his second season as the Cubs' pitching coach. “Obviously, it affected us pretty significantly for a month. I felt it was important for me to talk through what I went through because too much of what's out there is the easy stories of what people go through with this.”
The former major leaguer learned he had the virus on the third day he felt ill, following a nasal test. He isolated in a spare bedroom with symptoms that got so bad he spent part of one day at the hospital.
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Hottovy tested negative about two weeks ago and still gets winded easily. He is grateful his wife, Andrea, and young children did not get sick.
Hottovy had a relentless fever, difficulty breathing, dehydration and an increased heart rate. It was particularly bad at night, making sleep just about impossible.
He got depressed, wondering if he could have done more even though he wore masks and gloves outside the house prior to becoming ill.
Hottovy spent eight hours at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago on the 12th day and was prepared to stay overnight. Instead, he got sent home with a breathing apparatus.
“If my story, if my journey through this, helps one person realize how severe this can get — and if that saves one life — then I want my story to be heard," he said. "Again, I’m sorry I’m emotional. It’s still fresh.”
Hottovy coughed so much during one Zoom meeting with pitchers that manager David Ross took over for him.
Hottovy kept a cooler filled with drinks in the spare room because he didn't want to risk exposing his family by going to the kitchen.
He said his wife was constantly cleaning and neighbors brought supplies to sanitize the home. If he went outside, Andrea and the kids would clear the house and open the doors. Hottovy would then exit as quickly as he could, without touching anything, and he would go straight to his room when he went back inside.
Hottovy thought about opting out of the season. But he has faith in the league's protocols and will be with the team at home and away.
“I do still believe for society and for people, having sports and having baseball ... is important,” he said. “But at the same token, one little misstep, one little contact situation by one person, can derail an entire industry.”