Rick Ankiel, once a man-of-the-hour starting pitcher hopeful for the
St. Louis Cardinals, stepped back into the limelight on Monday, even
though he didn't throw a single pitch and wasn't in a St. Louis spring
training jersey. Instead, Ankiel, who recently announced that he was
giving up trying to make the pitching squad in favor of becoming an
outfielder, hit a two-run homer for the Springfield Cardinals minor league
team in a 4-0 win over a Los Angeles Dodgers minor league team.
The Springfield News-Leader newspaper reported on Tuesday that Chris
Maloney, Springfield Cardinals manager, put Ankiel into the number two
hitting spot at the last minute and the former pitcher, an 11 game
winner in 2000, went 1-for-5 at the plate.
Ankiel's homer came in the eighth inning off left-hander Jamal
Hamilton who was 5-1 last year in combined pitching with the Dodgers' High-A
and Low-A clubs.
Ankiel announced his decision to retire from pitching and seek a
return to the big leagues as an outfielder three weeks ago after control
problems continued to plague his pitching progress.
It is still a bit of a mystery where Ankiel will start the season. He
told the News-Leader on Monday that he would like to remain in the
Cardinal system. And, though the Cardinals have no current plans to play
Ankiel in 2005, he remains on the St. Louis 25-man roster and he would
have to clear waivers before being eligible to play in the Cardinals'
minor league system.