DENVER (AP) — His pitching arm out of commission, Adam Ottavino became a movie producer for a six-minute documentary about his journey back from Tommy John surgery.
Putting aside whether the flick could be an Oscar contender for best documentary for short subject, Ottavino is ready to be a reliever again. Just when that may be remains unknown. The Colorado Rockies right-hander doesn't anticipate breaking camp with the team out of spring training after surgery seven months ago, but could be ready around the All-Star break.
This certainly gives him peace of mind: finalizing a $10.4 million, three-year contract with Colorado on Monday, a deal initiated by the team that caught him by surprise.
Ottavino will receive $1.3 million next year, $2.1 million in 2017 and $7 million in 2018 under the agreement announced Monday, which avoids salary arbitration. He would have been eligible for free agency after the 2017 season.
"I've been playing for a long time and never really had anything but a one-year situation," Ottavino said during a conference call. "Especially coming back from injury, this feels good that I don't have to be back by any set day."
Ottavino is throwing from about 75 to 90 feet as he tries to build up his arm strength. He won't rush back.
"Go with exactly what our trainers tell me to do," Ottavino said. "Hopefully, that progression goes smoothly and I can get back up on the mound sometime in the near future."
When his time as a pitcher is complete, he may have a role as a producer. His movie begins with somber music and even sadder shots — like him staring at the field from the top step of an empty dugout on a wet, dreary day. There are also shots of him struggling to get his shirt on with one hand, getting his stitches removed and pedaling on a stationary bike in a deserted workout room.
Spoiler alert: The filmed, edited and produced by Ottavino ends on a high note, with an aerial view of him giving a hug to someone after tossing a few baseballs in the outfield grass at Coors Field.
"It was devastating when I got hurt, just kind of lonely and listless at the beginning," said the 30-year-old Ottavino, who was originally selected by St. Louis with the 30th overall pick in the 2006 amateur draft before being acquired off waivers by Colorado in 2012. "Once I got throwing, even if it was just for a little bit at the beginning, it made me feel more like myself again. Get back to what I like to do again."
The Rockies spent the offseason shoring up their bullpen. Two weeks ago, they signed a pair of former closers to two-year contracts, guaranteeing Jason Motte $10 million and Chad Qualls $6 million.
Great additions, in Ottavino's estimation and even if it might cost him a return to the closer's role. His stuff was electric last season, even if it was just a small sample size. Ottavino didn't surrender a run in 10 1-3 innings last season, when he made $1.3 million. He went on the disabled list in late April with right triceps inflammation.
Really, though, he doesn't care what role he serves in his return.
"I did have a really good time being the closer for a week there. It was exciting," Ottavino said. "But I'm always willing to pitch whenever they need me.
"I'm just going to work as hard as I can to get in the best shape I can and see what happens. I don't want to get my hopes up for something early, when it might not happen. I'm very confident it's going to go well because so far it's gone better than I could've expected."
AP Baseball Writer Ronald Blum contributed to this report.