Injured Austin Meadows joins Detroit Tigers as ‘Baby Steps’ continues rehab program

Minneapolis – Austin Meadows took a swing from a pitching machine at Target Field. His workout switched to running exercises on flat ground, which he accomplished without pain, for the first time in rehab.

The Detroit The Tigers hope Meadows can make a comeback this season.

“Small steps,” said manager AJ Hinch. “We’re getting a little better, and he’s doing a little bit more.”

Meadows, who has not played in the MLB since June 15, joined the Tigers in the three-game series against the Minnesota Twins and is expected to stay with the big league club until it begins its rehab job. Before that can happen, Meadows must advance his running program and avoid setbacks.

“The next step is to get to the bases and go from there,” Meadows said.

The Detroit Tigers’ Austin Meadows are flagged at home by Kansas City Royals’ Salvador Perez trying to score one goal by =Miguel Cabrera during the sixth inning on Thursday, April 14, 2022, at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.

The 2022 season was nothing short of trying Meadows and his health, dealing with a sinus infection, inner ear infection, vertigo, COVID-19, left and right Achilles strains, and general pain.

Since May 6, Meadows has played 14 of 79 games for the Tigers.

“We still don’t have an answer as to how that happened,” Meadows said of Achilles tendon strain at the same time. “It could just be playing on total or different cleats. You can wonder all day long. That’s what it is, and we have to move on and prevent that from happening again.”

Prior to joining the Tigers, Meadows had been at the team’s spring training facility in Lakeland, Florida, since before the All-Star break. Tigers shipped him to Lakeland after the rehab mission closed on July 11 due to persistent soreness in his legs.

He last played on July 7 for Triple-A Toledo.

It was frustrating,” Meadows said. “I’ve never had anything like this before. It’s a rare injury, a rare thing. We’ve reached out to the right doctors to find out what’s going on and the schedule. I’m happy to be here and take the next step.”

At one point, Meadows worried that he wouldn’t be back until 2023.

“You definitely have those ideas,” Meadows said. “But you just have to keep pushing and keep fighting. When you get hurt, you just want to be there with the guys. When you’re not playing and you’re not around the team, it’s really hard. You just want to be around them and help them. It’s been a tough time. It was a learning process and a growing process, but I had a good support system around me. It was going to get stronger.”

Andrew Chavin mode

Andrew Chafin’s left damper market is on fire, with New York The Mets — Chavin’s close friend, Chris Bassett, is touting him — as one of several teams interested in getting him before the 6pm trading deadline on Tuesday.

Chavin has not been vaccinated.

The 32-year-old returned to the Tigers on Monday after being placed on the restricted list for the four-game series, Thursday through Sunday, against the Blue Jays in Toronto. He cannot enter Canada due to the country’s vaccine requirements.

“We’ll cross that bridge if we get there,” Chavin said, speaking of his second vaccination status last week. “I’ll do what I have to do. But if I don’t, I won’t. So I suppose that answers your question.”

Chavin signed a two-year, $13 million contract in March. He has a player option for the 2023 season, which means he can withdraw from his deal with the Tigers (or another team if he is traded) and become a free agent for that season.

If the Tigers retain Chavin, they are more likely to exercise their player’s choice.

“I have to be ready to put in the shows tonight,” Chavin said. “That’s about it. There’s no point in worrying about things that are completely out of my control. If the phone rings for me, I’ll go to the playground… It’s always in the back of your mind. You’ll always go wondering. You’ll think about it, but no.” It matters. You have no control over it.”

Derek Hill is waiting for you

Bringing Chavin back from the restricted list forced the Tigers to make moves on the 26-man and 40-man roster.

Outfielder Derek Hill, number 23 overall in 2014, was set for the job, thus clearing a place on the 40-man roster, while right-hander Angel De Jesus in Triple-A Toledo was chosen to create an opening on the 26-man roster.

“Decisions will get harder and harder as the health of the men on the 60-day hit list improves,” Hinch said. “(Matt Manning) will be back tomorrow. It’s going to be a little uncomfortable with some of the guys who’ve been here.”

If Hill clears the waivers, which means the other 29 teams refuse to add him to the 40-player roster, he can choose to stay with the organization or become a free agent. He will be a free agent for the minor league this off season.

The 26-year-old hit 0.217 with nine walks and 32 strokes for Mud Hens this season.

Hill has a batting average of 0.240 with nine steal bases in 12 attempts across 95 games in parts of three MLB seasons. He played 31 games with the 2022 Tigers, hitting 229 with five runs and 28 attacks.

“We’ll see where Derek takes his career,” Hinch said. “He’s a great athlete and someone who helped us. Hopefully he’ll stay in the organization, but that’s the cost of doing business when you’re healthy.”

Javier Pez sitting on the bench

Shortstop Javier Báez was not in the starting lineup on Monday in the series’ opening game against the Twins. He hit a solo run at home and made two fouls–a 15-advantage fault in the MLB–in Sunday’s 4-1 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays.

For the first time since April, Hinch has started utility operator Willie Castro at Shortstop.

“These are the guys we’re going to play today,” Hinch said. “Jaffe is very present (off the bench). This is the group we think we should play today.”

Contact Evan Petzold at epetzold@freepress.com Or follow him on Twitter Tweet embed. Read more on Detroit Tigers and sign up for the Tigers newsletter.

This article originally appeared in the Detroit Free Press: Austin Meadows Joins Detroit Tigers to Continue Rehab


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