Tampa Bay minor leaguer Erik Ostberg home in Northampton after Rays shutter spring training

  • Florence's Erik Ostberg, shown here during the 2019 season, is adjusting quickly in his return from injury to the Bowling Green Hot Rods. The Tampa Bay Rays minor leaguer missed much of the Class A season with a back injury. Steve Roberts/Bowling Green Hot Rods

  • Florence's Erik Ostberg, shown here during the 2019 season, is adjusting quickly in his return from injury to the Bowling Green Hot Rods. The Tampa Bay Rays minor leaguer missed much of the Class A season with a back injury. Steve Roberts/Bowling Green Hot Rods

  • Florence's Erik Ostberg, shown here during the 2019 season, is adjusting quickly in his return from injury to the Bowling Green Hot Rods. The Tampa Bay Rays minor leaguer missed much of the Class A season with a back injury. Steve Roberts/Bowling Green Hot Rods

  • Florence’s Erik Ostberg is shown batting for the Class A Bowling Green Hot Rods during the 2019 season. Ostberg had a productive offseason and was playing well in spring training when the Tampa Bay Rays closed camp last week and sent players home due to the COVID-19 concerns. Steve Roberts/Bowling Green Hot Rods

Staff Writer
Published: 3/20/2020 6:57:39 PM
Modified: 3/20/2020 6:57:27 PM

Erik Ostberg arrived at the Tampa Bay Rays spring training facility early. He knew it was going to be an important preseason camp after battling an injury last summer playing for the Class A Bowling Green Hot Rods.

The Northampton native pulled his white Rav4 into Port Charlotte, Florida, shortly after Valentine’s Day and got to work.

“I wanted to show them some value and improve my ability,” Ostberg said.

He set personal bests in exit velocity, barrel speed and blast motion, showing he could hit the ball harder and farther than last year. Ostberg delivered strong baselines for his body composition and in the weight room.

“It was going in a good direction. I was getting compliments from new hitting coordinators,” he said. “It was a positive vibe.”

Some of that developed from his decision to intermittently fast over the offseason to try and lose weight. A trainer suggested it, and Ostberg took to the meal timing schedule.

“I felt really quick, I felt really present,” he said. “I never felt foggy.”

The players didn’t think much about the growing and spreading coronavirus outbreak as they moved between the team’s restricted-access training facility and their hotel. It became something of a joke to not touch your face. They had a meeting with the Rays head doctor on March 16 and he assured them there was nothing to worry about and wash their hands.

“Then two days later the NBA suspends the season, and there was buzz around the camp like ‘oh we might kind of be screwed,’” Ostberg said. “We were pretty bummed.”

The Rays sent everyone home on Sunday, so Ostberg began the 22-hour trip to Northampton. The team officially closed the complex Tuesday, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

“Nobody wanted to leave at all. Everybody wanted to stay in the warmth,” he said. “We thought we could quarantine ourselves at the hotel and the complex.”

He occupied the time with audiobooks like David Sinclair’s “Lifespan: Why We Age - and Why We Don’t Have To” or podcasts like “The Joe Rogan Experience,” Lewis Howes’ “The School of Greatness” and Shawn Stevenson’s “The Model Health Show.” Ostberg also called his friends and listened to music. The drive has become almost routine for him – he’s done it 10 times over the past three years since he was drafted in 2017.

He got back to his childhood home in Northampton late Monday night.

“I don’t know how long it’ll be,” Ostberg said.

Major League Baseball announced on Monday that Opening Day would be pushed back to comply with CDC guidelines against gatherings of more than 50 people for the next eight weeks.

During the break, the Rays will continue to provide Ostberg and the rest of the team’s minor leaguers their $400 weekly training camp stipend, which is supposed to run through April, according to the Tampa Bay Times. After that?

“There’s so many unknowns about payment,” Ostberg said. “I feel secure enough, although I would hope we would get paid.”

Until he’s called back, Ostberg will do his best to stay sharp. The Rays told him to remain in game shape, so he’s working at Powerhouse Training in East Longmeadow with Matt O’Neil, a first-year coach with the Class-A Advanced Salem Red Sox, and Mariners prospect Steve Moyers of East Longmeadow.

“I’m gonna continue my routine and hit and catch bullpens. Not excited to be here, but I do like that vibe,” Ostberg said. “I’m gonna be really in tune with my diet and what time I’m eating. When I’m not doing those things I’ll be chilling around the house and get really good at Xbox. I’ll try to read more, hang out with my family.”




Daily Hampshire Gazette Office

115 Conz Street
Northampton, MA 01061
413-584-5000

 

Copyright © 2019 by H.S. Gere & Sons, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy