Veteran shortstop Andrelton Simmons battled depression and suicidal thoughts last year, prompting him to opt out of the end of the season to address his mental health, he revealed Tuesday in an interview published in the Orange County Register.
Simmons, 31, spent the previous five seasons with the Los Angeles Angels. He recently signed a one-year deal with the Minnesota Twins, and he reached out to Angels beat writer Jeff Fletcher to describe his struggles in 2020.
The Curacao native said he has had depression since he was young.
“”It was tough for me mentally to where the thought of suicide crossed my mind,” Simmons said. “It was something I vowed a long time ago I would never consider again. I was fortunate to talk to a therapist, which helped me let go of those thoughts. At the end when a lot of people were still going through what most would think of as tough times, the idea of finishing the season in a bubble was too much for me to handle.”
Simmons remained tight-lipped about his decision to opt out until this week. He appeared in 30 games last season, hitting .297 with 10 RBIs and two stolen bases before he decided to step away.
“Most people carry scars that others can’t see or understand,” the four-time Gold Glover said.
The coronavirus pandemic intensified Simmons’ struggles. He said it was hard to focus on playing baseball as he could see ramifications from the virus in every city the Angels visited.
“First time was driving through Oakland and seeing some of the shops and restaurants trying to stay open with all the homeless people camping outside,” he said. “That’s when it really hit me.”
Simmons opted out of the final games of the 2020 campaign rather than enter into a bubble atmosphere with the team — a situation that would have led to more isolation and potential for dark thoughts.
“I was really saddened by how much I was hearing about the death toll, and seeing how smaller businesses were going out of business and I was a little depressed at how the effects of all the new rules and fears were gonna affect people’s livelihoods and how disconnected people were becoming,” he said. “There’s a lot more that happened but I don’t think my whole life should be put on for everyone to judge. I wasn’t more open with this because I don’t like the idea of having to explain every detail of my life.”
By going public, Simmons said, he hopes that others might seek the help they need.
“There’s a lot of people out there that are going through stressful times,” Simmons said. “For different types of reasons. Which brings a lot of fear or anxiety. And I know there’s the fear of seeking help/assistance because of the perception of people thinking there’s something wrong with you, but I think in reality there are way more people than you might think that are going tough stressful stuff, which can come in different ways: fear, loss, trauma, problems with loved ones. You’re not alone. You don’t have to keep everything bottled up. Find someone that can help you express your emotions freely and that can assist you with it.”