When the Chicago Cubs open their three-week summer camp at Wrigley Field this week, pitching coach Tommy Hottovy will be in town to work with the team's hurlers. That would not have been the case a few weeks ago. Hottovy contracted the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) during baseball's shutdown and had to spend time in the hospital.
Hottovy was hit hard by the virus despite being only 38 and having no underlying health conditions, and it took 30 days until he tested negative. At one point he had a fever over 100 degrees for six straight days. Hottovy detailed his health scare during an appearance on 670 The Score's Mully & Haugh Show on Wednesday morning:
"It is important to understand that, guys, I'm 38 years old," Hottovy said on the Mully & Haugh Show on Wednesday morning. "I've been poked, prodded, tested for the last 16 years in Major League Baseball. I've had no underlying issues, nothing that would red flag me as somebody that would get hit pretty hard with this virus. But I did. My journey through this virus was not like ones you hear of younger people who are asymptomatic or only have it for a few days. I got crushed. I did have to go the hospital for a little bit of time to get checked and do all the breathing treatments."
"The problem with is on day eight through 14, it crushed me," Hottovy said. "It got into my lungs. I got the full what they call the COVID pneumonia, a viral pneumonia, shortness of breath, really trouble breathing, constant fevers."
Hottovy said he did "everything in my power that I felt to protect myself and my family from this, and it still got me," though he was able to isolate himself in a room at home, so no one else in his family got sick. Hottovy credits his wife for diligently cleaning and disinfecting their home to protect their children.
"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. I went through some really weird stages through this whole process," Hottovy said during a Zoom call with reporters Wednesday. "Depression, thinking 'did I do something wrong? How could I put my family in that kind of situation?'
"It obviously affects people differently," he added. "If my story and 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 ... I'm only two weeks from testing negative after 30 days of quarantining from my family. What my wife had to endure for a month. You just don't want to put anybody through that."
COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that attacks not only the lungs, but also the heart and brain in some cases. Because it is a new virus, we still don't know much about the long-term effects. There is some evidence COVID-19 leads to an increase in heart muscle damage and lung scarring, though it's unclear whether the damage is permanent.
MLB players and personnel will be tested every other day during the 60-game season and everyone will be tested before summer camp opens. Several teams reported outbreaks prior to summer camp, however, , and intake screening will undoubtedly result in positive tests across the league.
There is a COVID-19 related injured list this season for players who test positive, were in contact with someone who tested positive, or show symptoms. There is no minimum or maximum stay on the COVID-19 list, and there is criteria that must be met before the player can be activated, including two negative tests at least 24 hours apart.
Due to HIPAA laws, MLB teams will not announce when or why a player is placed on the COVID-19 list. Instead, fans and media will be left to speculate whenever a player is removed from the roster.