Detroit Tigers: Can Austin Meadows return to the field at 100% in 2023?

Apr 28, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA;  Detroit Tigers left field Austin Meadows (17) catches a
Apr 28, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Detroit Tigers left field Austin Meadows (17) catches a / Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports

Detroit Tigers outfielder Austin Meadows aiming to be back to 100%.

One of the last gifts that Al Avila left for the Detroit Tigers was Austin Meadows. Before the 2022 season, the Tigers went out and traded Isaac Paredes to the Tampa Bay Rays along with a conditional round draft pick in exchange for Meadows.

Simply put, the 2022 season was atrocious for Meadows. It's not meant to sound berating toward Meadows because some of it was just downright unlucky. The Detroit Tigers saw Meadows suit up for just 36 games during the 2022 season.

After that, it was strained Achilles in both legs, COVID-19 battles, and vertigo issues that plagued his season. By late summer rolled around, it was announced that Meadows would be shut down for the rest of the season.

It turns out that Meadows had been battling mental health issues and needed time to focus on getting himself right. Props to the Tigers, who supported the efforts, allowing him to take the time he needed to get everything straightened out and return to being a professional baseball player.

That being said, Meadows has no small task ahead of him in 2023. He has to come out and step in the batters' box after quite a lengthy break. Even with live at-bats and simulated games, he may be a part of on the side, getting back in the box for game situations during Spring Training is going to be a big test for him.

At the height of his career, Meadows was an All-Star caliber outfielder with the bat to back it up. He was hitting exceptionally well and was a fixture in the top half of the Rays lineup. The Tigers have to feel like that version of Meadows is still in there; the task will be getting him back to the level. But before that, Meadows just needs to take his time getting back to 100%.

It feels like a situation where Meadows could struggle early on in Spring Training as he gets back into the swing of things and really jumps back into the game. Tigers fans should not worry as the expectation would be that come regular season time, Meadows will be in a better place with some at-bats under his belt, ready to patrol right field in Comerica Park.

The hope is that 2023 goes much better for Meadows than last summer, and the first step in accomplishing that will be getting back on the field and progressing back to 100%, and feeling like he's ready to compete.

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