Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch utilized Twitter to showcase the full page ad that Rick Ankiel took out in today’s newspaper.
Classy move by the player affectionately tagged as “Dick” Ankiel by our friends over at Cards Diaspora. In fact, they bid him adieu in 2010 when he left the team.
Important to realize that this, in fact, his first game in the Gateway City since his departure. While playing for the Royals and the Braves in 2010 would allow Rick to face off against his old club, it was as the home team both times. Due to injuries and his status as more of a backup outfielder in that time frame, Ankiel would only come to the plate twice against his former club last year. He would register a walk and a run scored for his troubles.
Over the course of 2010, Ankiel would ultimately struggle for his two clubs. He would only play in 27 games as a member of the Kansas City Royals, slowed by injuries early on. During those 27 games, Ankiel would hit .261 with four home runs and 15 runs batted in, walking seven times and showing that he never has mastered plate discipline by striking out 29 times. The trade deadline would approach and the Royals would flip him to the Atlanta Braves for the stretch run.
Health would not be an issue for Ankiel in Atlanta, but production would be. Over the course of 47 games, Ankiel would only produce a .210 batting average, two home runs, nine runs batted in, 19 walks and 42 strike outs while coming off the bench primarily.
In December of last year, Ankiel would sign a free agent contract to join the Washington Nationals and join a crowded outfield as, once again, primarily a bench player. He would show up early to Spring Training, at least, he would show up to the Cardinals facility to work out with friends and former teammates after being granted permission by both his current club and the Cardinals. Ankiel lives just a short distance from the Cardinals spring training facility. The extra work paid off as the Nationals proclaimed him their starting center fielder as the team broke camp.
The success has not carried over to the season, however, and MLB Trade Rumors is reporting that the Nationals are in the market for a full time option in center field due to Ankiel’s struggles against lefties. So far this season Ankiel is hitting .211 with one home run and four runs batted in over 57 at bats. He has walked six times but the strikeout bug is still biting as he has wiffed 13 times on the young year.
Expect Rick Ankiel to receive two ovations today, one when he walks to the plate for the first time and another when he strikes out for the first time as a visitor.
Ankiel has always been a favorite in St. Louis and many fans will hope to see a little bit of St. Louis put Rick back on the right track in 2011.
Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball as well as the Assignment Editor for BaseballDigest.com.
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