No one can know what professional athletes go through to achieve the highest level in any sport. It obviously has a lot to do with how they grew up, with having extraordinary talent and knowing how to develop it, and with bringing complete commitment. Squared.
And sometimes, even all that is not enough.
On Monday April 23rd, Aubrey Huff of the San Francisco Giants mysteriously left the team for what was termed a “family emergency”. From the start of the 2012 season, baseball fans and sports writers could see that Huff was having a difficult time at the plate and in the field. This after signing a large contract following the Giants 2010 Championship season, then putting up subpar numbers in 2011.
But no one knew how tough things really were.
Giants Manager Bruce Bochy announced today that Huff is on the 15 day DL and that he would be receiving treatment for an anxiety attack. The Giants are hopeful Aubrey Huff will returning to the team within a week and continue his treatment.
In February 2006, Milwaukee Brewers starting pitcher Zack Greinke, then with the Kansas City Royals, went out for the season after he was diagnosed with social anxiety disorder (SAD) and depression. Greinke was treated by a sports psychologist and received anti-depressant medication.
Since returning to baseball, Zack Greinke has excelled and reestablished his professional career.
Last Saturday in a late inning tight game against the New York Mets, Giants’ Manager Bruce Bochy ran out of infielders. Huff was moved from first base to second base—a position he had never played before. On a potential double play ball hit to shortstop Brandon Crawford, Huff failed to cover second base. The Mets rallied and eventually won the game.
The pressures of performing on a national stage under intense media scrutiny can be daunting. Add to that the demanding expectations players put on themselves and it is amazing that more pro athletes aren’t affected by anxiety or depression. And always in the background are the stresses inherent in everyday life.
Here’s hoping Aubrey Huff works through his stuff and gets on the other side of a serious and difficult medical condition. I’m rooting for him even harder now than I ever did watching him play baseball.