Detroit — Austin Meadows has no idea why all this has happened to him. But if baseball teaches you anything, it’s that it does you absolutely no good to wallow in what’s already happened — be it good, bad, or in his case, unfathomably unlucky.
You need to keep moving forward.
“It’s tough,” said Meadows, who has played in just 36 games for the Tigers after being acquired from Tampa Bay for Isaac Paredes. “You want to be out there. But you definitely learn some things along the way. There’s a lot of adversity there.”
To say the least. It started with sinus pain and flu-like symptoms and morphed into vertigo. He missed three weeks with that, came back for eight games and then tested positive for COVID. Then, last week, after he cleared protocols and started to work out, he developed soreness not in one Achilles tendon, but both.
Are you kidding?
“The whole COVID thing was tough,” Meadows said. “It brought me back to 2020 when you were isolated and couldn’t go anywhere for like 10 days. That’s always tough. You enjoy the comradery with your teammates, you enjoy being in the clubhouse. To have that taken away is always tough.”
He was going stir crazy spending 10 days cooped up in an apartment that he just moved into.
“COVID sucks,” he said. “Not doing anything for 10 days is tough mentally. Then, not doing anything for 10 days, the Achilles started to flare up on me for some reason. Just a weird deal. Just a lot of adversity, probably the most I’ve had in my career.
“I’ve been hurt before but nothing like this where it just piles up back-to-back. I can’t put my finger on it.”
On Sunday morning, though, after going through treatment and snacking on a bowl of fresh-cut fruit before hitting the weight room, Meadows was hopeful the worst was behind him.
“For me, you want to be out there, you want to play each and every day,” he said. “That’s the goal. But things happen you can’t control. It’s just the way it is. You try to stay positive and try to be a presence here in the clubhouse and do everything you can to get back out there as soon as you can.”
Fingers crossed, but he seems finally back on that path.
“I’m feeling good,” he said. “Everything is going well.”
He began doing some baseball activity for the first time last weekend, playing catch, hitting off a tee. The final hurdle will be a running test, which is tentatively scheduled for Wednesday.
“We are hoping that he can be playing (on a rehab assignment) by the end of the homestand as we depart on our road trip,” manager AJ Hinch said. “We don’t want any setbacks. We are hoping he can join us on the road trip at some point.”
Hinch guessed Meadows would need to play as many as five games for Toledo to get his timing and game legs back.
The Tigers leave Thursday for an 11-day trip to Chicago, Kansas City and Cleveland. It is conceivable Meadows, barring any setback, could catch up to the Tigers in Kansas City.
“There is still plenty of baseball left,” Meadows said. “I’ve definitely got my eye on that second half, getting out there and helping this team.”