BRADENTON, Fla. – Austin Meadows made a somewhat unexpected return to game action today, playing three innings with the GCL Pirates. Meadows is beginning his in-game rehab work in his return from a hamstring injury, and said after the game he was surprised to be back this soon. After he ran the bases earlier this week, the Pirates decided he was good to go for an early return, playing three innings today, rather than the normal five innings to start a rehab appearance.
Meadows will be off tomorrow, and hopes to return on Monday, seeing where he’s at with his rehab. He’s hoping to “get some games in and get out of here,” getting back to Indianapolis.
“It felt great,” Meadows said of getting back on the field. “We were able to face some live pitching while we’ve been down, me and Barrett [Barnes]. Just to keep our eyes locked in. In the field, it felt good to move around, and making throws, and catching a fly ball. That double felt good too. Today was more of a healthy, ‘get through it’ type of day. Just see how I feel afterwards. It’s nice to get a double, it’s always nice getting a hit, but I feel good.”
Meadows went 1-for-2 at the plate, including an RBI double in the third inning that bounced off the wall, scoring Mason Martin from second.
The timing of Meadows’ return is a bit of a reminder of what this latest injury cost him. Jordan Luplow will be promoted to the majors today with the Pirates in need of an outfielder. At the start of the season, Meadows was expected to arrive in the majors around this time if an outfield spot was needed. The Pirates now need an outfielder, but the hamstring injury from Meadows, which he suffered on June 21st, prevented him from being the option.
“Obviously knowing that you’re going to be the guy, it’s tough going down and getting hurt,” Meadows said. “I know that everything happens for a reason. I’ve been through it before. I think if I get back now and get some games under my belt in Indy, see where we’re at by the end of the year, maybe get a shot up there. That’s obviously been the goal all year, to get up there by the end of the year, or whenever it would be. Right now, I’m really focused on my health and taking care of myself.”
Meadows could still arrive in Pittsburgh this year, although it might take more than health. He has been inconsistent with his offensive production this season, finally starting to hit in May, but slumping again in June. The good thing is that he’s now making his return, which could give him about a month in Indianapolis to show what he can do before potentially being a September call-up.