Ryan Buchter, 34, has spent almost half his life pitching in professional baseball. In those 15 years, Buchter has been traded four times, released three times, changed organizations 10 times, pitched for teams in 22 cities and only once spent a full season in the majors without being demoted or released. What his itinerant playing record does not show is its cost: a drinking problem, depression and mental health issues that left him so wounded he is speaking out because he knows his story is too prevalent among ballplayers.
“I really think it’s important to share my story [because] of how common it is,” Buchter tells Sports Illustrated. “Truly I want guys to be more open about receiving help.
“This is something I’m extremely passionate about … I want guys to know it’s O.K. as a man, [a] baseball player, to know we are not alone. A lot of us are f----- up. Either from childhood, high school and college years, or the years that followed.”
Buchter (pronounced BOOK-ter) wants to change how baseball and its players deal with a growing mental health issue in the game.
“Sometimes to bring change it takes a shockwave,” he says.
Buchter told his story to SI after reading how fellow reliever Ryan Sherriff of the Rays described to SI last month how mental health issues forced him to briefly walk away from the game. Buchter has pitched six seasons in the majors, including with the Angels last year, and currently is on the roster of the Reno Aces, the Triple A affiliate of the Diamondbacks. He says he has been seeing a psychologist for the past year and been on antidepressant medication for the past five months.