Former St. Louis Cardinals pitching sensation Rick Ankiel, who re-invented himself as an outfielder, has officially decided to retire as an active player.
Feb 21, 2013; Kissimmee, FL, USA; Houston Astros outfielder Rick Ankiel during photo day at Osceola County Stadium. Image Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
The announcement came yesterday afternoon by way of Cardinals broadcaster Dan McLaughlin, who announced that Ankiel’s playing days came to an end. According to the broadcast, Ankiel is hoping to transition to a front office job with the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Florida native was drafted out of Port St. Lucie High School in the second round of the 1997 draft. After signing withe the Cardinals in late August, he would go on to make his major league debut almost 2 years later to the day. After appearing in 9 games during the 1999 season, Ankiel would have a breakout season in 2000 where he finished second in Rookie of the Year voting.
Following a standout regular season, Ankiel’s career started to fall apart as a pitcher when he lost control of the strike zone against in the National League Divisional Series against the Atlanta Braves. In only 2.2 innings, Ankiel walked six batters, struck out three, allowed four hits and runs. He would leave the game with a 13.50 ERA. Hoping that it was just an isolated incident, Ankiel did not do any better in the NLCS against the New York Mets days later when he left with a shorter appearance.
As a pitcher, Ankiel pitched in 6 games during the 2001 season before missing the 2002 season due to injury. In 2004, his career as a pitcher was over.
Rather than retire early, Ankiel decided to reinvent himself as a hitter and converted to the outfield. After a few years in the minor leagues to make the conversion, Ankiel was back with the Cardinals when he was called up during the 2007 season.
But for Ankiel the pitcher, we’ll never know what could have been.