Dogs Grooming

Giants’ Drew Robinson spreads the phrase about psychological well being


Sacramento River Cats outfielder Drew Robinson walks on the field before a game at Sutter Health Park on Sunday, July 18, 2021. Robinson, who lost an eye after a suicide attempt in April 2020, announced Friday he will retire from playing baseball and become an advocate for mental health with the San Francisco Giants.

Sacramento River Cats outfielder Drew Robinson walks on the sphere earlier than a recreation at Sutter Well being Park on Sunday, July 18, 2021. Robinson, who misplaced an eye fixed after a suicide try in April 2020, introduced Friday he’ll retire from enjoying baseball and grow to be an advocate for psychological well being with the San Francisco Giants.

dkim@sacbee.com

It’s a vivid San Francisco morning at Channel Avenue Canine Park. Drew Robinson is speaking calmly about a few of the darkest issues an individual can undergo. And all his 5-year-old golden doodle service canine Ellie desires is for Robinson to throw that inexperienced rubber ball in his palms.

Robinson, a 30-year-old psychological well being marketing consultant for the San Francisco Giants, performed components of three seasons with the Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals between 2017 and 2019.

In February 2021, in a much-read function by ESPN’s Jeff Passan, Robinson revealed an unimaginable story: He survived an April 2020 suicide try that price him use of his proper eye and he needed to play baseball once more.

His comeback fell quick, with Robinson hitting .115 in 111 plate appearances in Sacramento with the River Cats in 2021 earlier than asserting his retirement. Nevertheless it’s led him to a different path, one which helps Robinson play a significant function in burgeoning psychological well being work by the Giants group.

“What I discover is, the gamers take heed to Drew otherwise than they take heed to an expert,” mentioned Shana Alexander of Folsom, the Giants’ psychological well being director.

They take note of him – and to the canine that’s at his aspect each place he goes.

Discovering the need to stay

Firstly of an hour-long interview with The Bee on the canine park, a 10-minute stroll from Oracle Park, the place Robinson and Ellie lately spent a number of days, Robinson defined it was no downside to debate at size the incident that modified his life.

“I’ve realized it wouldn’t be helpful to type of share it, however then additionally maintain again,” Robinson mentioned. “So I’m snug speaking as in-depth as wanted.”

First, he answered questions on how he acquired Ellie as a pet, shocking his important different, Daiana Anguelova, at Christmas in 2016. The 2 already shared a canine, Brodi, and a small condominium. However, missing a Christmas current for Anguelova, Robinson couldn’t resist. “It was the most effective impulse choice ever,” Robinson mentioned.

In 2019, nevertheless, life started to alter with Robinson experiencing what he referred to as his “three substances for recipe of catastrophe.” First got here a season-ending harm, then a launch by the Cardinals, and eventually, a call to name off a deliberate wedding ceremony with Anguelova. She left, taking Brodi and Ellie.

By the point Robinson went to spring coaching with the Giants group in early 2020, he’d already begun to plan to finish his life.

“It was on my thoughts,” Robinson mentioned. “So, so typically, which was actually robust to consider as a result of I used to be nonetheless my … regular goofy, fun-to-be-around self on the area as a result of I loved the baseball way of life. However on the identical time, if there was downtime within the day throughout observe or throughout a recreation, I’d be sitting there enthusiastic about it.”

There’s a lengthy historical past of suicide in Main League Baseball, with 91 gamers dying by suicide, in response to Baseball-Almanac.com, most lately former A’s outfielder Jeremy Giambi on Feb. 9.

Across the time of his planning, Robinson noticed a therapist for 2 or three months, although he wasn’t critically dedicated. “I’ve been wording it was as like I used to be searching for assist, however I wasn’t asking for assist,” Robinson mentioned.

His suicide try got here at his Las Vegas home round 8 p.m. on April 16, 2020, a couple of month after the COVID-19 pandemic halted the season. In a course of inconceivable occasions, Robinson shot himself within the head however remained cognizant, finally going to mattress, waking up early the next morning, and wrestling throughout the day with making one other try.

“I keep in mind pondering man, I’m not gonna be capable of play baseball once more,” Robinson mentioned. “And that’s after I actually caught myself. Like, if you happen to’re enthusiastic about baseball, you should be enthusiastic about the longer term.”

He referred to as 911 at 3:48 p.m.

Getting Ellie again

Robinson spent every week and a half within the hospital, adopted by 5 days in a psychiatric hospital.

Anguelova, who’d remained in Robinson’s life, went into help mode. With Robinson barred from having guests, Anguelova would drive to the hospital parking zone with their canines and speak on the telephone with him as he lay in mattress, unable to depart. She would search for on the hospital home windows, questioning aloud which one was his.

Anguelova continued to go to Robinson after he was launched from the psychiatric hospital, generally leaving Ellie with him and taking Brodi residence along with her. Slowly, Anguelova and Robinson rekindled their romantic relationship, with the 2 girlfriend-boyfriend at present and taking issues gradual, Robinson mentioned.

Robinson additionally finally acquired the thought to carry Ellie locations with him.

“I type of simply took her out in public one time simply to see how it could go,” Robinson mentioned. “And he or she did wonderful. And I used to be like, ‘You realize, like this might be fairly superior to carry her, like take in every single place.’”

He acquired Ellie licensed as a service canine, bringing her to Sacramento final season, the place teammates would carry her within the air. Supervisor Dave Brundage even needed Ellie to journey with the membership, Alexander mentioned. “She simply brings a number of pleasure and vitality wherever she’s at, even when there’s a loss,” Alexander mentioned.

With Ellie educated as a service canine, she will be able to go just about wherever Robinson does, although she’s not all the time with him after they’re on the ballpark. Giants personnel don’t appear to thoughts Ellie hanging round. Giants infielder David Villar, whose household canine Toledo needed to be put down in January, mentioned everybody enjoys having a canine within the clubhouse.

“Canine carry a way of pleasure to people, particularly whenever you see Ellie and the way candy she is,” Villar mentioned. “And everyone simply actually will get alongside along with her.”

Fernando Perez, director of video teaching for the Giants and a former MLB participant mentioned he’d perhaps not ever seen a canine extra spectacular at catching balls. “I’ll juggle the ball with my ft, like a soccer ball and she or he’ll catch it each time,” Perez mentioned.

Perez is just not alone.

“I believe all of us at one level or one other have had a catch with Ellie with that ball,” mentioned Giants third baseman Jason Vosler, whose grandmother runs a home-based dog-grooming enterprise.

Whereas Robinson spoke to The Bee, Ellie principally sat attentively and patiently, solely often making an attempt to get Robinson or his interviewer to play and throw her most well-liked inexperienced ball within the air.

Ending the stigma of psychological well being

Alexander, who’s educated as a medical psychologist and in her third yr with the Giants, seen one thing when she went to Sacramento final yr to assist out with the gamers.

“Eight completely different guys approached me, and I assumed, ‘Oh man, what’s occurring with Sacramento?’” Alexander mentioned. “And so they all shared, ‘Nicely, Drew shared he works with you. And so we thought, if Drew works with you, it could be value working with you.’”

When Alexander acquired wind of Robinson’s retirement, she thought it could be wonderful for the workforce to create a job for him “so he may help psychological well being wants.” Robinson now works full-time for the workforce, chatting with group teams and touring all through the Giants’ farm system to work together with gamers.

In the meantime, in March 2021, Alexander employed an previous colleague and fellow medical psychologist, Scottsdale-based Emily Payette to function the workforce’s minor league psychological well being coordinator. Payette agreed Robinson has been useful in getting gamers to make use of her and Alexander’s companies.

“The gamers have simply a lot respect for him, primarily based simply on who he’s as an individual, his historical past, his time in baseball, and he advocates simply on a regular basis for gamers to not maintain issues in however to make the most of companies,” Payette mentioned. “He normalizes it.”

Payette can also be guardian of a 10-month-old golden doodle pet, Willie (for Willie Mays), that the Giants try out within the minors as a remedy canine. Ellie tolerates him.

“Poor Willie, he simply doesn’t get social cues loads,” Payette mentioned. “Ellie loves fetch and she or he’s, as , hyper-focused on that ball and enjoying fetch. A number of instances, Willie simply desires to play and can come as much as her and attempt to have interaction her in play and sniff. … She’s identical to, ‘Get away from me.’”

In September, the Giants will maintain suicide consciousness nights in each San Francisco and Sacramento. Ellie and Willie might be on the native occasion. Robinson will, too.

Two years into his restoration, Robinson is statistically talking, nonetheless at some threat. The Harvard Faculty of Public Well being notes research displaying that of people that try suicide, 30 p.c will make one other try, with about one-quarter of that quantity doing so fatally.

Robinson stays lively in his work and his restoration, assembly weekly with a psychiatrist. On Aug. 1, he introduced the arrival of his psychological well being nonprofit, the Higher U Basis.

As his interview wrapped up, Robinson talked about a quote near his coronary heart: “Folks would relatively hear from you, than hear about you.”

After which it was time for Robinson and Ellie to move to their subsequent vacation spot.

The Nationwide Suicide Prevention Lifeline supplies confidential help to anybody in disaster and their family members by a stay chat and free 24-hour hotline: 988. WellSpace Well being operates the Sacramento area’s 24-hour hotline: 916-368-3111 or textual content HOPE to 916-668-4226.



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