MLB prospect opens up about his struggles with depression and anxiety

Rob Whalen feels much more ready to play baseball this year.

caption
Rob Whalen feels much more ready to play baseball this year.
source
Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

  • A Seattle Mariners pitching prospect, Rob Whalen, gave an honest and emotional interview about his struggles with depression.
  • He wants athletes to feel more comfortable coming forward and admitting to struggling with mental health issues.
  • At one point Whalen’s mental health struggles became severe enough that he had to step away from baseball.

A top pitching prospect for the Seattle Mariners, Rob Whalen, gave a candid interview to MLB.com about his battles with anxiety and depression, in the hopes of helping other athletes who may be dealing with similar issues.

“If I touch one person, it’s a win for me,” Whalen said. “I’m not trying to get pity from anybody. It’s my story, and I just want to share it and help somebody else.”

In particular, Whalen wants to encourage athletes who may be struggling to feel comfortable speaking up and getting help, which he says made a difference for him.

“We need to change the stigma that you’re fragile if you talk about it, because that’s not the case,” he said. “We need to continue the conversation.”

“It’s almost like when you’re an alcoholic, you have to admit you’re an alcoholic. For me it was, ‘OK, let me say these words out loud of how I’ve been feeling inside for so long,’ feeling if I did say it, people would think I’m crazy.”

Whalen says he has dealt with anxiety and depression since he was a teenager, but those struggles reached their apex last year.

“It’s hard to get in shape and be motivated to drive yourself when you don’t even want to get out of bed, let alone go work out for three hours,” he said. “So I didn’t put myself in good position to succeed last year.”

Finally, after a start that “didn’t go well,” Whalen reached his breaking point.

“I just packed my stuff and booked my flight. I was breaking down in my hotel room. I couldn’t believe what I just did, but I had to do it,” he said.

Whalen took a step back from baseball, found a counselor outside of baseball, and began to get his mental health in order.

This year, with Spring Training set to begin, Whalen feels more ready to continue his baseball career.

“I’ve dropped 20 pounds, I’m eating better, I feel great, I’m healthy and I think it’s a good reset for me,” he said.