Meek hopes to get back to big leagues

For every professional athlete, the journey starts somewhere, whether it's as a young child or later on in life when talents and abilities are discovered. For right handed pitcher Evan Meek, the journey that led him to play professional baseball started when he was a young child.

"It [the love for baseball] started when I was three or four years old. Just growing up, my parents involved all of us: I have two brothers [and] two sisters," Meek said. "So we were all involved in sports and it was just kind of ‘do anything and everything.' But baseball just kind of always stood out to me. I like to hit, I like to pitch and I just like being out there. My family loves it, and my dad grew up with it so it kind of seemed like my route, my path I guess."

Meek said that as a child, summer time often involved many activities such as swimming and playing soccer and baseball. As part of a little league team, Meeks said that some of his favorite memories are being excited for the snacks and being with his friends after the game. But as he got older, things began to change for Meek. He said his turning point came towards the end of high school.

"I think the turning point was probably my junior year of high school. I went to some pretty prestige tournaments that have a lot of scouts and that have a lot of people that come to watch," he said. "I pitched and I did really well and all of a sudden I started to get flooded with college letters. You know, USC, all the top schools. Well, that was overwhelming for me."

Throughout his years in high school, Meek said he played in a lot of tournaments and traveling leagues. He said that before he knew it, he was being drafted and going into the minor leagues.

"I just saw that I had an opportunity to go play professional baseball out of high school," Meek said. "A lot of guys that are young, they want a lot of money and I wasn't really a high draft pick at all out of high school. I was an eleventh round [pick]. So I didn't sign right away, and I went to a community college. I did that because if you go to college, you have to wait three years [but] at a community college it's only one year. So I did that and went and played some ball. But I figured school was something I could do later. I wanted to pursue baseball, and I believed I could do it."

Although he is now 29-years-old, Meek said that the past nine or ten years playing baseball have flown by. He recalled some of his MLB starts and described the feeling of pitching in stadiums he saw as a child as surreal. Meek said that his first game after being drafted was not as overwhelming as the day he made his debut.

"What was overwhelming was in 2008 when I made my debut; that was overwhelming. We were in Atlanta," he said. "Because as you're coming up, you're playing in minor league ball parks but when you go to the show, they're [the stadiums] huge; they're beautiful. And also, growing up, I remember watching Wrigley Field on T.V. and then I was pitching at Wrigley Field. It's just really hard to describe the feeling of it, you know. It's a great feeling."

As his career has progressed, Meek said that his achievements outweigh his disappointments.

"I've been fortunate. I was fortunate to make an All-Star team my first full season as a reliever. That was awesome," he said. "And then, unfortunately in 2011 I got hurt. I had a shoulder injury, and I battled all year to get healthy and made it back at the end of the season but I still wasn't quite right. So I spent all of last year's off season getting right. Then I broke with the team this year and had a rough go at the beginning of the season, but for a guy coming back from injury, you know, it could take a guy a little bit longer. But here I am now to try to build some innings and get some consistency back and hopefully I won't be here too long and I can get back and get on with things."

Meek said that it has been tough for him to have the success he did in the majors and then be sent back down to a Triple-A team. "I just try to have a good attitude about it while I'm down here," he said. "It's tough to have success at the major league level and then come back down; that's tough. But it's part of the game and like it said, it's just a bump in the road."

As a young player who has experienced an injury and some ups and downs, Meek said that hopefully he can continue to play for the next 10 years but that he hasn't given much thought as two what he want to do after retirement.

"It's funny because when you go through little bumps, you have a lot of time to think and I don't know [what I want to do]," Meek said. "I've had a few things go through my mind, but I don't know. I'd like to maybe continue making investments and hopefully when I'm done playing I won't have to worry so much about it. But I don't know. I think if I were to do nothing when I'm done playing, I'd probably get bored pretty quick."

As a way to make sure that he doesn't get bored once he retires from the game, Meek said that he would like to travel and maybe eventually get back into the baseball scene.

"I might want to get back into it [professional baseball]," he said. "It's the only thing I've ever done, but there's so many things out there that I want to do. I want to travel. I want to just live, and I want to go see other countries and experience different things, you know, not just stay in the United States."

As for the younger guys just getting into the professional league, Meek said that the big leagues can humble a man pretty fast. He said that his time in the majors taught him how to act and conduct himself as an individual.

"[My advice would be] don't talk so much. Just have a good time but observe," Meek said. "When you're here [in Triple-A], you're on the cusp of being where you want to be and when you to the big leagues you need to obviously be ready to perform, but it's also [important to watch] how you act. There's a difference between how guys act that play in the big leagues than the guys that haven't."

Meek offered his best advice to the younger guys and that is to just observe the game as its happening and learn as much as you can.


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