ST. PETERSBURG, Fla (WFLA) The crack of the bat during Rays batting practice at Tropicana Field sure sounded like a home run. Sure enough, the next sound was the ball colliding with the plastic seats in right field. But a glance inside the batter’s cage revealed, not someone in Monday night’s lineup. It was Rays outfielder Austin Meadows.
“I just hit B.P. (batting practice) off the machine,” Meadows said. “I’m going to go play catch just like a normal day.”
“He’s going to work out the next two days with us,” Manager Kevin Cash said. “We will see how that soreness subsides and if we can get him out there. We’re happy with is progress at this point.”
Meadows has taken a big step closer to his return, the biggest since he fractured his thumb while sliding into third base during a game against the Boston Red Sox. At the time, Meadows was one of the top hitters in baseball, holding a .351 batting average.
“It’s crazy how much we take our thumbs for granted,” Meadows said. “I was saying, once you get hurt, you do everything. For me, I’m right handed in a lot of things that I do.”
Swinging the bat, Meadows did not look tentative. The power was there. He took his glove to the field but did not do anything at full speed. The Rays will not rush his return but his spot in the lineup is noticably absent.
“I’ve been running as much as I can,” Meadows said. “Running the bases, keeping my legs loose, keeping my arm loose. I’m still able to throw with my left hand.”
“We’ve missed him a lot,” Cash said. “Austin, what he was providing offensively for us, it made our lineup that much deeper. We will welcome him when he gets back.”