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Rick Ankiel's last stand

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07:00 AM ET 04.25 | Few MLB journeys have taken more turns or come with as many ups and downs as that of Rick Ankiel, who began as the best pitching prospect in baseball. He was a phenom, plain and simple, and then he started Game 1 of the National League Division Series against the [Atlanta] Braves and it all fell apart for him. ... Then Rick Ankiel did what few players in American sports have tried to do. He reinvented himself. He announced that he was going to try to make it back to the major leagues as a hitter. ... He has to know it. Since 2009, while playing for four teams, he has hit .234, he rarely walks and he has also slugged just .383 -- just 31 homers in more than 1,200 plate appearances. He's not offering anything. It's almost over -- the Astros are probably the last stop.

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Rick Ankiel, Icon Sports Rick Ankiel, Icon Sports
April 25, 2013  07:30 AM ET

I really like the guy, but I'm surprised he's still on an MLB roster. He's one of the few pitcher who couldn't come back from tommy john surgery. His control was great the last time he came to the majors as a pitcher. He got pounded though because he had no velocity or movement on his pitches. That's why he retired from pitching. Control issues or lack of confidence had nothing to do with it.

April 25, 2013  09:33 AM ET

Hangin' by a thread as the saying goes.

April 25, 2013  09:38 AM ET

Great athlete, but mediocre hitter/fielder.

April 25, 2013  09:42 AM ET
QUOTE(#3):

Great athlete, but mediocre hitter/fielder.

True. Nothing special about him as a hitter.

He made a throw from CF to third base a few years ago in Colorado that still blows my mind. From the warning track in dead center he put a throw in the air right on the base at third to throw a guy out. It was one of those "did I really just see that" moments.

April 25, 2013  10:25 AM ET
QUOTE(#4):

True. Nothing special about him as a hitter.He made a throw from CF to third base a few years ago in Colorado that still blows my mind. From the warning track in dead center he put a throw in the air right on the base at third to throw a guy out. It was one of those "did I really just see that" moments.

I love seeing throws like that from the outfield.

April 25, 2013  10:53 AM ET
QUOTE(#5):

I love seeing throws like that from the outfield.

Roberto Clemente. From right field.

April 25, 2013  11:23 AM ET
QUOTE(#1):

Control issues or lack of confidence had nothing to do with it.

Didn't he have like seven walks in that divisional game, some pitches missing the plate by five feet??? Was that due to injury? If not, sounds like control issues to me - I do wish him the best though, I like his "never quit" attitude...........

April 25, 2013  11:24 AM ET
QUOTE(#7):

Didn't he have like seven walks in that divisional game, some pitches missing the plate by five feet??? Was that due to injury? If not, sounds like control issues to me - I do wish him the best though, I like his "never quit" attitude...........

He wasn't hurt, he was a mental wreck. He was hitting the back stop with pitches.

April 25, 2013  12:39 PM ET
QUOTE(#6):

Roberto Clemente. From right field.

I remember him putting ALL his skills on display in one World Series....hit, throw, run. Amazing player.

April 25, 2013  01:48 PM ET

He could always try pitching.....again.

Comment #11 has been removed
April 25, 2013  02:02 PM ET

I really hoped he'd succeed as an outfielder.

April 25, 2013  02:08 PM ET

"I really hoped he'd succeed as an outfielder."

Anyone who has done what he has and carved out a mediocre career as an outfielder at the major league level has succeeded immensely.

Comment #14 has been removed
April 25, 2013  03:42 PM ET
QUOTE(#7):

Didn't he have like seven walks in that divisional game, some pitches missing the plate by five feet??? Was that due to injury? If not, sounds like control issues to me - I do wish him the best though, I like his "never quit" attitude...........

That was years before he called it quits.

After tommy john, the control was fine but there was no velocity or movement on his pitches. That's when he gave up on pitching.

April 25, 2013  04:15 PM ET
QUOTE(#8):

He wasn't hurt, he was a mental wreck. He was hitting the back stop with pitches.

His elbow ligament snapped after 24 innings the next year. He never had the same stuff after tommy john surgery. The lack of big league stuff is what ended his pitching career. He regainded his control, but he never regained his velocity or that devastating curve ball.

What the national media never says about his melt down at 20 is that the coaching staff had been changing his mechanics. They felt he threw too much like Sandy Koufax; and were afraid he would destroy his elbow the way Koufax did. The moral to that story is that there are many worse things to be in baseball than be like Sandy Koufax.

Ankiel never mentions that but someone should. You take a 20 year old pitcher, start changing the fundamentals of his mechanics then send him out to start a playoff game. What could possibly go wrong there? That's the only big mistake I saw Dave Duncan make.

April 25, 2013  07:52 PM ET
QUOTE(#4):

He made a throw from CF to third base a few years ago in Colorado that still blows my mind. From the warning track in dead center he put a throw in the air right on the base at third to throw a guy out. It was one of those "did I really just see that" moments.

he did that in early April this yr in a game vs. the A's. he caught a fly ball in RF two steps onto the warning track and then fired a SEED to 3rd... in the air, right on the guy's chest.

the A's broadcasters were marveling at his arm while talking about how glad they were that the runner on 2nd decided to stay put.

April 25, 2013  10:04 PM ET

He lost his control against the Mets.

April 25, 2013  10:11 PM ET
QUOTE(#5):

I love seeing throws like that from the outfield.

I remember seeing Bo Jackson catch a ball on the warning track in dead center and throw a strike in the air to nail a guy at home. one of those "we're not worthy" moments.

 
April 26, 2013  12:54 PM ET

Don't worry Rick. Just read an article saying the Yankees are ready to open their wallets. That short right field porch is waiting for you.

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