Ankiel Trying to Return to the Majors Again

The former pitching phenom is back in spring training camp trying to catch on with the Cardinals as an outfielder for the third year in a row.

The Cardinals signed the pitcher-turned-outfielder Rick Ankiel to a minor league contract this winter, to include an invitation to spring training.

Ankiel, who missed last season because of a patellar tendon injury suffered in spring training, has tried to make it back to the major leagues with the Cardinals as an outfielder for the past two years.

The Cardinals currently have nine outfielders on the 40-man-roster, to include, Chris Duncan, Jim Edmonds, Juan Encarnacion, Cody Haerther, John Rodriguez, Skip Schumaker, Scott Spiezio, So Taguchi and Preston Wilson. In addition outfielders Ryan Ludwick, Eli Marrero, Miguel Negron and top prospect Colby Rasmus will be in spring training looking for at-bats and chances to make the major league club as a reserve player or at least hooking on at Triple-A Memphis.

Ankiel's chance of making the Cardinals roster out of spring training is very slim, with all these players in front of him. His fielding has impressed scouts and managers, and he has shown flashes of power hitting in the minor leagues, but it's not enough yet to add him to the major league roster.

In 2005, after announcing his retirement as a Major League pitcher on March 9, and extended spring training, Rick batted .270 for The Swing in 51 games to include 11 home runs and 45 RBI, playing 23 games in right, seven in center and 19 games as the DH. In August of '05 for the Double-A Springfield Cardinals, Ankiel appeared to hit his stride, hitting .272 with 25 RBIs and seven home runs.

Since he lacks options and he signed a minor-league contract this winter, Ankiel who turns 28 on July 19, will probably start the season at Double-A Springfield with a promotion to Triple-A Memphis at some point during the 2007 season.


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