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Meadows ‘couldn’t be happier’ with Rays


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Austin Meadows answers reporters' questions Monday in Cleveland -

CLEVELANDAustin Meadows always knew professional baseball was a business. He truly began to understand that last July 31.

That was the day the Pirates traded Meadows, Tyler Glasnow and first-round pitching prospect Shane Baz to the Rays for Chris Archer.

The Pirates selected Meadows ninth overall in the 2013 amateur draft, following his senior year of high school in Loganville, Ga., and he was consistently ranked as one of their best prospects. He also shined when he made his major-league debut last season.

Then, just like that, he was gone.

“I was surprised, really surprised,” Meadows told me. “I know anybody could be traded, but I really thought I was part of the future with the Pirates.”

Now, Meadows is a big part of the Rays’ present. He will be a reserve outfielder for the American League on Tuesday night in the All-Star Game at Progressive Field.

“It’s hard to believe I’m here,” Meadows said with a smile Monday during media day. “I haven’t even spent a full season in the big leagues. It’s a blessing. I was surprised to be traded but fortunate to be traded a great organization. It’s a really a great fit for me and I’m very happy to be with the Rays. I immediately felt like I fit in and have already made friendships that will last a lifetime. It’s worked out better than I could have hoped for.”

Meadows, 24, is hitting .289/.364/.502 with 12 home runs and eight stolen bases in 71 games while splitting time between right field, left field and designated hitter.

Meadows debuted with the Pirates last May 18. Despite batting .292/.327/.468 with five homers and four steals in 49 games, he was sent back to Triple-A Indianapolis and eventually traded.

It’s a deal that hasn’t worked out well for the Pirates.

Meadows is an All-Star and Glasnow was 6-1 with a 1.86 ERA and 0.91 WHIP in eight starts this season before going on the injured list with a strained forearm. Meanwhile, Archer is 6-9 with a 5.02 ERA and 1.42 WHIP in 25 starts since joining the Pirates.

Meadows still follows the Pirates and is particularly happy to see his close friend Kevin Newman doing so well in his rookie season as the starting shortstop.

“I still keep pretty close tabs on the Pirates,” Meadows said. “I want those guys to do well. I have no hard feelings at all about being traded. It’s a business decision they made, and it’s really turned out well for me. I couldn’t be happier.”

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