Originally posted on Fox Sports Midwest  |  Last updated 5/14/13
ST. LOUIS With a catcher's bat and a pitcher's glove,Rick Ankiel started his newest chapter. "It's just kind of ironic that the first series I come to play with the Mets is here," New York's most-recently acquired outfielder said. Ironic indeed. This was once where Ankiel, then a high-kicking, smooth-throwing, fast-climbing left-handed pitcher debuted with the Cardinals as a 19-year-old in 1999. And on Monday, it became the place where the 33-year-old outfielder joined his sixth team in what has become a long and defiant MLB career. The Mets had signed him that day, and his trip to join the team was so rushed he arrived without his gear. Starting catcher John Buck gave up a bat. Pitcher Jonathan Niese lent a glove. With the bat, Ankiel walked once, struck out once and grounded out. With the glove, he made a diving catch that wasn't Ty Wigginton's fly ball in the seventh inning popped out of his grasp and helped the Cardinals beat the Mets 6-3. All of this was ironic, and a bit odd.Ankiel arrived to help the Mets hit, but he really hasn't been hitting that well. In 65 plate appearances with Houston, he averaged 194.231.484. While he hit five home runs in that time, he struck out a dismal 35 times. But from a step back, wasn't the image of Ankiel standing in the outfield at Busch Stadium, playing for the Mets one of the two teams he collapsed against as a pitcher way back when just a little bit impressive? Sportswriters go to town with the verbs used to describe Ankiel's flameout as a pitcher, and it was so bad that most of the purple prose fits. He was the kid who made the game look easy, who took the mound by storm. Then he lost it all. During his first full major league season in 2000, he had an 11-7 record and a 3.50 ERA. He finished second in voting for Rookie of the Year. He was rewarded with a playoff start. You probably know the rest. In two brief outings, first against the Atlanta Braves, then the Mets, he gave up five hits, surrendered seven earned runs, threw nine wild pitches and walked 11. His postseason ERA was 15.75, and he would never figure out how to pitch effectively again. His story could have ended there. But Ankiel came back. That left arm that forgot how to throw from the mound could still swing a bat and fire missiles from the outfield grass. He started again in St. Louis, in 2008 and 2009. During those two years, he hit .248.313.450 with 109 RBIs and 36 home runs.It could have been a happy ending, but more chapters were meant for Ankiel's career. In decline, he was sent away from St. Louis before the start of the 2010 season. From there, he bounced through four teams, the latest being the Houston Astros, who released him on May 9.Surely, this would be the end of Ankiel. But, no. "New team. New teammates. New coaches. New manager," he said after Monday's game with the Mets. "It's a little bit different, but once they say play ball, it's all the same." He's outlasted every label we figured would stick. He's been a phenom, a bust, a man remade. Now, he is the veteran winning his fight to stay in the game. That's the thing about Ankiel.Baseball has discarded so many. Yet,he is still here.
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Nazem Kadri fined $5,000 for throat-slashing gesture

Hassan Whiteside suspended one game for elbowing Boban Marjanovic

Hornets’ Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has torn labrum

Report: Antonio Tarver suspended six months, fined $50,000 for positive test

Texans owner wants team to draft a top quarterback

Subban undergoes larynx surgery, out at least eight weeks


Report: Raiders staying in Oakland for 2016 season

Cavaliers showing trade interest in Kings’ Ben McLemore

Report: Rockets shopping Dwight Howard

Jim Fassel takes issue with Cam Newton's warmup MVP cleats

Report: NFL upholds Vontaze Burfict’s three-game suspension

NFL owners reportedly concerned with Raiders-gang connections in LA

Fantasy booking WrestleMania 32

USWNT start Olympic qualification in style by scoring in first 12 seconds

Magic Johnson wants Peyton Manning to join Rams

Unrestricted free agents each team must consider re-signing

Franchise tag has been a useful tool for John Elway, Broncos

The 16 best NBA All-Star Game sneakers ever

Eight most potentially combustible MLB clubhouses

Matt Barnes coyly denies IG post was shot at Derek Fisher

NHLers who should be dealt to contenders before deadline

Robert Kraft compares Tom Brady to Peyton, Eli Manning

WATCH: Markieff Morris appears to flip the bird to heckler

Prediction for each NBA award heading into the All-Star Break

Did Clippers reenact Paul Pierce stabbing during pregame intros?

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Fantasy booking WrestleMania 32

Unrestricted free agents each team must consider re-signing

QUIZ: Name the winners of the NBA Slam Dunk Contest

Thank you Daniel Bryan

The timeless greatness of Jaromir Jagr

The NCAAB power rankings

Report: Kings to keep coach George Karl

Was Alain Vigneault right about NHL's lack of punishment towards Wayne Simmonds?

Report: Knicks fire coach Derek Fisher

The best and worst commercials from Super Bowl 50

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker