Former St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Rick Ankiel returned to the Majors yesterday, hitting a home run in his first game as an outfielder. Ankiel, who gave up on pitching after losing his control and having several surgeries, hit 32 home runs this year in the Minors before the Cardinals called him up.
His three-run home run off of Cy Young candidate Chris Young provided enough offense for the Cardinals, who downed the Padres 5-0. “Unbelievable,” Ankiel said. “You almost can’t put that into words.”
Ankiel is most known for throwing 5 wild pitches in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series against the New York Mets. He was removed while still in the first inning after only 20 pitches.
In March of 2005, Ankiel decided to give up on pitching and concentrate on being an outfielder. He joined the Cardinals Single-A club to do just that and had significant success considering he was a pitcher just months earlier. He continued through 2006, but required season-ending knee surgery in May. This year, he was blasting home runs in the Minors, but the Cardinals could only call him up one more time before they had to waive him if they wanted to send him back. They finally got around to it and he returned the investment with the three-run blast.