Ottavino will miss the rest of this season and almost certainly the first part of 2016. The right-handed closer met with Dr. James Andrews, who agreed with the initial diagnosis and performed Tommy John surgery. Ottavino feels "fine," he told Groke, adding that the operation "went as expected."
Now the Rockies will play the waiting game with the dominant 29-year-old fireballer. Ottavino has "a long road ahead" of him, as Colorado manager Walt Weiss told Groke. But if there's anyone equipped to come out of it as strong or stronger than he was before, it's Ottavino.
"He's got a great mindset and a low heartbeat," Rockies bullpen coach Darren Holmes said in a recent interview with Purple Row. "Adversity and pressure don't seem to phase him."
Those traits are great ones to have for a closer, but they also will come in handy during a grueling recovery process. Rafael Betancourt, perhaps the strongest-minded pitcher the Rockies have ever had, knows a thing or two about that. He talked about that with Groke during spring training:
"I told myself, 'This is a process. If you want to come back and keep playing, you have to do this,'" Betancourt said. "A lot of guys in Grand Junction said to me, 'It's amazing that now you're here with us, doing this.' But I told the kids, 'This is what you have to do if you want to play in the big leagues. This is the hard work you need to do.'"
Ottavino, like Betancourt, has a strong desire to get better. The Brooklyn native has garnered plenty attention from the sabermetric community for his reliance on advanced statistics and in-depth studying during his road to eventual dominance.
"He goes above what other players do," Holmes said in response to a question about Ottavino's study habits. "He researches swing patterns and how to pitch around them ... he's a unique guy."
"We call him 'Jeeves,' because anything you need to know, just ask Otto," Holmes added. "He knows everything."
It's that kind of work ethic that sent Ottavino on a never-ending quest for knowledge, and a combination of those things is what has allowed him to go from first-round flameout with the St. Louis Cardinals to wildly successful reliever who has struck out more than a batter per inning during his time with the Rockies.
It is also what will allow him to hardly miss a beat once he's recovered from Tommy John surgery and back in action at 20th and Blake.