Out since June, Austin Meadows was pulled off a minor-league rehab assignment with Triple-A Toledo last month after suffering a setback to his injured Achilles, though apparently there was more to the story. Friday, the Tigers outfielder announced he’s still not ready to return, admitting that, in addition to his injury, he’s also been struggling with mental health issues. Meadows will continue to travel with the team and be in their clubhouse, but likely won’t play again this season.
Between his Achilles tendinitis, deteriorating mental health, a bout with vertigo and a COVID diagnosis—not to mention adjusting to a new team and city after being traded days before the season opener—not much has gone right for Meadows this year, with 2022 shaping up to be a lost season. A first-round pick of the Pirates (ninth overall) back in 2013, Meadows has been a productive player throughout his career, reaching the World Series with Tampa Bay while also garnering an All-Star appearance in 2019. Before he joined the Tigers in April, Meadows was coming off one of his better seasons, driving in a career-high 106 runs while leading the Rays to an AL-best 100 wins, easily their most in franchise history.
Until recently, athletes would rarely address their mental health, fearful of the stigma attached to clinical depression. Little by little, those walls are coming down, thanks to outspoken advocates like Kevin Love, DeMar DeRozan, Naomi Osaka, Simone Biles and Dak Prescott. We live in a time of heightened anxiety, worsened by our debilitating addiction to screens and the pressures of navigating an unstable world rife with class tension, social unrest and a political divide that has never been greater. These factors have all contributed to our current mental health epidemic, a societal crisis that continues to be overlooked.
Though more callous fans might not be as supportive, interpreting such an admission as a sign of weakness (that resentment likely stems from how much money athletes make), Meadows should be commended for speaking out, hopefully giving others battling similar demons the courage to do the same.