Austin Meadows, Detroit Tigers’ best hitter, details scary vertigo situation

Detroit Free Press

Austin Meadows wasn’t sure how long he would sit out.

Likewise, the Detroit Tigers weren’t sure how long they would be without Meadows.

The 27-year-old, an All-Star in 2019, couldn’t play because of vertigo.

“We’re all human,” Meadows said Friday. “You think of those things. You think of worst-case scenarios and best-case scenarios. In my case, the best-case scenario was being able to miss two or three weeks and being able to get back as soon as I could.”

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Before Meadows’ return Tuesday, he missed several games in May, reporting a sinus infection, and last took the field May 15 against the Baltimore Orioles at Comerica Park. He came out of the game after one plate appearance, citing dizziness and vertigo.

Meadows felt dizzy all the time and experienced a false sense his surroundings were spinning. This sensation occurred when he was sitting, standing and moving.

“I’m just managing it now,” Meadows said. “When it happened, I didn’t really know what was going on.”

He was arguably the Tigers’ best hitter at the time, and having to watch games from afar instead of being on the field was “super hard” for him.

Meadows rested for a week at his home in Tampa, Florida, then began baseball activities in Lakeland, home of the Tigers’ spring training facility. Once he passed a battery of tests, the organization cleared him June 1 to begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Toledo.

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After four games for the Mud Hens, Meadows packed his bags and traveled to Pittsburgh, where he entered the Tigers’ starting lineup Tuesday against the Pirates at PNC Park.

“I couldn’t be more thankful,” Meadows said. “It could’ve been one of those things that could’ve been a long time. I’m just glad that I’m back. I had to be patient, but missing three weeks compared to a lot longer was huge.”

Meadows, a left-handed hitter, is batting .259 with 13 walks and 17 strikeouts in 31 games, though he is still waiting for his first MLB home run this season. He launched a solo home run for Toledo on June 4.

He was an April 5 addition to the Tigers — three days before Opening Day — in a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Despite missing three weeks, Meadows is healthy and refuses to use his stint with vertigo as an excuse for his performance at the plate. Still, the fifth-year MLB outfielder missed a significant amount of time and received just 16 plate appearances during his rehab assignment.

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Meadows has played three games since returning to the Tigers. He went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts Tuesday, 2-for-3 with one walk Wednesday and 0-for-4 one strikeout Friday.

“Being a little bit behind the eight-ball is not ideal, but we still got a lot of games left,” he said. “I got plenty of time. … I feel like I could feel worse. I feel better. That’s what the big leagues is for. Just go out there, compete and try to win games.”

Robbie Grossman update

Outfielder Robbie Grossman exited Friday’s 10-1 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays with the bases loaded and one out in the eighth inning. He fouled a pitch off his leg, just below his knee.

X-rays were negative.

The 32-year-old is considered day-to-day.

“It sucks because I feel good,” said Grossman, who returned from the injured list Friday after missing 10 days with a neck strain. “I’m glad it’s just a bruise. It’s not broken. We’ll be back tomorrow and see how I feel.”

Roster move

The Tigers optioned right-hander Elvin Rodriguez to Triple-A after Friday’s game. Outfielder Victor Reyes — on the injured list since May 16 with a right quad strain — was activated Saturday morning. The 27-year-old has played four games for Toledo in his rehab assignment, including both games of Thursday’s doubleheader, and appears to be healthy.

Rodriguez, 24, has pitched five games (four starts) for the Tigers this season, posting an 11.51 ERA with nine walks and 16 strikeouts in 20⅓ innings. The New York Yankees tagged him for 10 runs June 3, and the Blue Jays scored eight runs against him Friday.

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“I really appreciate it,” Rodriguez said. “It’s very important to me because I’m such a young age. Despite me not having good outings, they have given me the opportunity to be part of the team.”

Contact Evan Petzold at or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. Read more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.

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