Former St. Louis Cardinals pitcher-outfielder Rick Ankiel was designated for assignment by the Houston Astros What this means for the former Cardinal isn’t exactly known right now but he will always have the Cardinals fans pulling for him.
It was only the other day that the Cardinals former MLB.com beat writer Matthew Leach, now a columnist for MLB.com, published a column on how Ankiel was becoming comfortable with his baseball career.
I remember when Ankiel was coming up as a pitcher through the Cardinals system. I only missed seeing him pitch locally by a season or two as the Cardinals moved their AAA affiliate from Louisville to Memphis. Ankiel finished the 2000 season second in Rookie of the Year voting to Rafael Furcal. Interestingly enough, another former Cardinal, Lance Berkman, would finish tied for 6th with 1% of the vote.
I remember watching in disbelief when in 2000 when Ankiel was on the mound on October 3, 2000, during Game 1 of the National League Divisional Series against the Atlanta Braves. It’s one of the worst playoff moments in Cardinals history. It all started in the 3rd inning when Ankiel through five Wild Pitches. Next thing you know, he was pulled from the game.
The Cardinals may have won the game but Ankiel’s pitching career ended that day. Sure enough, he would get one more start in the postseason and then a few more starts for the Cardinals in 2004. But the pitcher that we knew and still love ended his pitching career.
Ankiel hit 2 home runs and 9 RBI during his rookie campaign so it was only natural that he tried to convert himself to an outfielder or another position to extend his career. It worked. He rejuvenated his career in the Cardinals minor leagues system and then he would come back to the Cardinals in 2007, one year after the Cardinals won the World Series, as an outfielder.
I hope another team gives Rick a chance.