Friday, August 10, 2007

A Great Story: Rick Ankiel

(Back in 2000, as a pitcher)

(Last Night, As An Outfielder.)

Rick Ankiel returned to the major leagues Thursday as an outfielder - and quickly put on a power display. Ankiel drove a 2-1 pitch into the right-field stands to put St. Louis ahead 5-0.

Ankiel, who was greeted with a standing ovation before his first at-bat, drew another lengthy ovation and took a curtain call after hitting his third career homer. He hit two in 2000, when he was a phenom left-hander.

"I set a goal for myself to get back here, so I feel good that I reached it,'' Ankiel said. "I'm looking forward to reaching my next goal, which is staying here.''

Ankiel was hitting .267 with a Pacific Coast League-leading 32 homers and 89 RBIs in 102 games at Triple-A Memphis. He also struck out 90 times and had a .314 on-base percentage.

Ankiel made his major league pitching debut at age 19 in August 2000 when he faced the Expos in Montreal.

The hard-throwing lefty won 11 games and struck out 194 in 175 innings as a 20-year-old rookie in 2000 and was a surprise pick to start the Cardinals' postseason opener that season against Atlanta. But he became the first major league pitcher to throw five wild pitches in one inning since 1890.

Ankiel threw nine wild pitches in four innings during the 2000 playoffs and never really was the same after that. He showed some promise at the plate in 2000, batting .250 with two home runs.

Now, the Cardinals want an extended period to gauge Ankiel's future, and expect that giving him three weeks of playing time before major league rosters are expanded will provide a clearer picture.

Well I wish him the best of luck, just getting back to the top is a helluva feat.


No comments: