In the spring of 2011, Nuts closer Scott Oberg felt some discomfort in his elbow after throwing a live batting practice session while playing for the University of Connecticut. "I didn't hear a pop," Oberg remembered, "but it was tighter than I had ever felt before." It wasn't long after receiving an MRI on his elbow that doctors at UConn informed him he would need "Tommy John" surgery to repair the torn ligament.
"That was rough," recalls Oberg.
Although Oberg's rehabilitation was a long and difficult process, he never gave up on his dream. "My roommate had the same 'Tommy John' surgery about a month after I did so we spent the summer together building each other up. That helped us both work harder in the training room. We really pushed one another."
After being drafted in the 15th round, Oberg spent the 2012 campaign with the Rockies Short-Season affiliate (Grand Junction Rockies - 13 saves in 25 appearances with a 2.33 ERA), Oberg was surprised to hear he would be heading to Modesto.
"I thought I would be going to Asheville," Oberg recalled. "I was definitely excited. I had been with the guys going to Asheville throughout Spring Training so it was a shock to see I'd be with these guys."
After struggling to feel comfortable in the beginning of the year Nuts pitching coach Dave Burba stepped in, "I had to have a few conversations with him just to tell him that he belonged here."
Oberg hasn't disappointed since arriving in Modesto. At the All-Star break, Oberg was tied for the league lead in saves with 15 and was named to the California League All-Star team. All of this happened after never officially being named the team's closer.
Oberg didn't seem to mind too much though, "No one ever came up to me and told me, 'You're our closer' it just kind of happened. I had closed last year in Grand Junction so I was comfortable in the situation."
With his arrival in Modesto, Oberg was willing to do what the team needed him to do. After pitching in almost every role out of the bullpen while at UConn, Oberg felt comfortable with whatever the Rockies wanted him to do, "I try and take the same approach no matter the situation. I just want to be out there and feel comfortable with the ball in my hand."
Burba has confidence in his closer and his ability to make it to the next level, "I've told him, 'You throw 94 (MPH), you have an outstanding curveball and an above average change-up.' He needs to trust who he is and know that on any given pitch he can make a pitch and get a hitter out. He's done well with that."
Given time, Nuts fans should expect to see Scott Oberg on baseball's biggest stage.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.