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Former Nats OF Rick Ankiel is retiring

Mar 5, 2014, 8:23 PM EDT

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Former Nats outfielder Rick Ankiel is officially retiring, as the 34-year-old converted pitcher will now look to join a MLB front office in the near future.

Ankiel came up in the big leagues as a starting pitcher with the St. Louis Cardinals, but became an outfielder at the age of 27 after losing complete command of the strike zone. As a pitcher he entered the majors as a top prospect, able to hit high-90s as a lefty.

Ankiel had one very good season in the Cardinals’ rotation, going 11-7 with a 3.50 ERA in 31 games in 2000. After that his pitching career unraveled with a well-documented case of the yips.

He was out of the majors for two seasons (2005-06) before returning as a position player. He then had two solid years with St. Louis, most notably a 25-homer campaign in 2008. After that, however, he was relegated to the bench as he had trouble maintaining a high batting average.

Ankiel played with the Nationals in 2011 and 2012 and hit .236 with 14 home runs and 52 RBI in 190 games. The Nats released him in July of 2012.

After leaving Washington, Ankiel had brief stints with both the Houston Astros and New York Mets. He last played in May of 2013.

Ankiel never lived up to the expectations he carried into the league as a top prospect, but he’ll likely always be remembered for both converting positions, and for having one of the strongest and most accurate outfield arms in baseball. For years he practically stood alone as the most feared outfielder to run on.

Ankiel played a total of 11 seasons in the major leagues. The St. Louis Cardinals broadcast team first reported the news.

  1. Eugene in Oregon - Mar 5, 2014 at 8:27 PM

    I remember some great throws from CF, but …

  2. nats128 - Mar 5, 2014 at 8:49 PM

    Loved the defense and hated the swing and misses. I remember where he came from as a top pitching prospect and he pulled it off as a decent position player.

    The arm was good for a 1/2 dozen gems a year but the bat and that .296 OBP and that 30%+ K rate just made bringing him back for 2012 a bad idea.

    • ArVAFan - Mar 6, 2014 at 6:33 AM

      Thank you for posting the link. Highlight reel material indeed. Hope he finds a satisfactory career off the field.

    • Faraz Shaikh - Mar 6, 2014 at 12:16 PM

      That arm will be missed, no doubt!!!

  3. Drew - Mar 5, 2014 at 10:53 PM

    Thanks, NatsNut.

    Gracious, what a gun.

    • natsfan1a - Mar 6, 2014 at 8:00 AM

      Gun? That was a bazooka. :-)

  4. scbilly - Mar 6, 2014 at 12:45 AM

    I liked and admired him for managing to come back as a position player after the collapse as a pitcher, and enjoyed having him here with the Nats for a couple of years. I hope he makes the front office thing work.

  5. ArVAFan - Mar 6, 2014 at 6:37 AM

    Quoting from Chase on the new Red Carpet Reward program:

    “The first level of free tickets start at 50 points. Those are for select weeknights that are not designated as ‘prime games.’ Prime games are generally when the Nationals play marquee teams such as the Philadelphia Phillies or the New York Yankees.”

    I don’t know about you, but the Nats front office may need to re-think their definition of “marquee” teams if the Phillies qualify. Which teams wouldn’t? The Astros? The Cubs? At least I wasn’t actually drinking coffee when I read that.

  6. nats106 - Mar 6, 2014 at 8:31 AM

    To me Ankiel proves that you don’t have to be a great player to be a favorite. While Chase Hughes’ article is a nice nod to Rick, it doesn’t tell half the story. During his personal re-invention to become an outfielder he blew out his knee and had to have major reconstructive surgery, but still came back and made the outfield conversion successfully. And that’s just one of the many setbacks he had to deal with throughout his life.

    Disagree completely that his signing in 2012 was a mistake. The guy was a case study in hard work, perseverance and positive thinking. I can’t imagine that some of the young players on that team didn’t learn something from him, but hey, what do I know?

    Tcostant, I know you were waiting for me to comment….

  7. NatsNut - Mar 6, 2014 at 9:05 AM

    I loved Tom Boswell’s story about Ankiel’s little trick on Bryce when he hit himself in the head with his bat. Bryce had blood dripping down his face, but when he asked Ankiel about it on out on the field, he said everything looked fine. So funny.

    • NatsLady - Mar 6, 2014 at 9:30 AM

      I loved that!

  8. NatsLady - Mar 6, 2014 at 9:22 AM

    On a different topic.

    There is a lawsuit by minor leaguers against MLB on MLB’s labor practices. A former Nats minor league, TIm Pahuta, is on the list of plaintiffs.

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=pahuta001tim

  9. ehay2k - Mar 6, 2014 at 9:41 AM

    Sad to see him hang them up, but hard to feel sorry for Ankiel: he got more chances, perhaps he made them, than most players get.

    That throw was amazing. But he also got some guys out trying to go to third (wasn’t one of them Reyes?), and after a while, it was like a joke because no one would run on us. You could just see guys on base with a stutter step – echoing the “I’m not gonna make it” in their mind – return to the bag.

    Best of luck Rick!

  10. Sonny G 10 - Mar 6, 2014 at 1:12 PM

    Good luck Rick.

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