Former Cardinals pitcher and slugger Rick Ankiel told a Fox Sports Midwest audience on the pregame show before Monday night’s Cardinals game that a one-batter stint in the Bluegrass World Series semipro-type tournament last week has nourished him to the point that he wants to try a comeback next year at age 39.
“Why not come back as a lefty reliever and put one more chapter in the book?” said Ankiel, who co-authored a book titled "The Phenomenon" with Yahoo Sports’ Tim Brown last year, on the ups and downs in his career.
Ankiel, who portended to have a great career as a starter, never really could overcome the “yips,” famously throwing wild pitch after wild pitch in the 2000 National League championship series. But before he would come back as an outfielder for the Cardinals some 10 years ago, he finished his pitching career as a reliever for the club in 2004.
In fact, his last game as a pitcher on Oct. 1, 2004 at Busch Stadium resulted in his only career victory as a reliever. In four innings of a 4-1 win over Milwaukee, Ankiel gave up two hits and one run. He hit two batters and, of course, threw one wild pitch — but retired Lyle Overbay on a liner to center to end the sixth inning and, as it turned out, his pitching career.
But he wasn’t married and didn’t have two sons then.
“My kids want to see me play,” he said Monday night on television. “I could care less if I throw the ball off the backstop. It really doesn’t matter.”
Ankiel said, “The game has swung back to my style of pitching — big curveballs and fastballs up.”
Even before he pitched in the Bluegrass in Louisville, Ky., Ankiel said he was “starting to get the itch. When I took a list of the pros and cons, I’ve got a whole lot of pros and I’ve got nothing on cons. Zero.
“I want to take this seriously,” said Ankiel, who said he would need three or four months to get into pitching shape.
"If I feel like I can suppress the anxiety, which I feel I can . . . why not?"