Ankiel to compete for spot with Astros
Rick Ankiel, the pitcher-turned-outfielder who belted 25 homers for the Cardinals in 2008, will be coming to Spring Training as a non-roster invitee for the Astros.
Ankiel, 33, has hit 69 homers in 1,793 career Major League at-bats with the Cardinals, Royals, Braves and Nationals, where he spent the last two years. He possesses a tremendous arm, not surprising considering he came up as a pitcher.
Ankiel won 13 games for the Cardinals, mostly from 1999-2001. He was 11-7 with a 3.50 ERA in 31 games (30 starts in 2000), but his sudden inability to throw strikes forced him to try his hand as a hitter.
Ankiel will be reunited with Astros manager Bo Porter, who came from Washington, and general manager Jeff Luhnow, who worked in the Cardinals front office from 2003-11.
“He can play all three outfield positions,” Luhnow said. “He’s got a plus-plus arm and plays good defensively. He’s a left-handed power bat. In my time I overlapped with him at the Cardinals, he was a very special player. He had big-time power at Triple-A and got promoted to the big leagues and showed that power there. He’s been inconsistent the last few years, but we really feel like this is a guy we want to take a chance on. He’ll come into camp looking to make the club.”