Big Hurt set to call it a career

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Frank Thomas, who last played with the Blue Jays and Athletics in 2008, will announce his retirement on Friday, sources told MLB.com.
The 41-year-old Thomas finishes his career with 521 home runs.
Also a tight end in college, Thomas was the seventh overall pick in the 1989 MLB draft out of Auburn. In 16 years with the White Sox, he went to five All-Star Games, won two MVP awards and led the AL in OPS four times. Unfortunately, injuries hampered him more and more towards the end of his stay and he left on poor terms with the team after playing in just 34 games in 2005.
In 2006, at age 38, he had a bounce-back season with Oakland, hitting .270 with 39 homers and 114 RBI to finish fourth in the MVP voting. He was productive again with the Blue Jays in 2007, but he got off to a poor start in 2008 and Toronto released him for financial purposes. He returned to Oakland for what ended up being the last stop of his career and hit .263/.354/.387 in 55 games.
Thomas is a clear Hall of Famer on performance, even if he contributed little with the glove. He finishes his career with a .301 average, a .419 OBP and a .555 slugging percentage. His 974 OPS ranks 15th all-time, and he’s 18th on the homer list. Unfortunately, he didn’t have all that much of a chance to add to his record in the postseason. He excelled in two of his four series, but he ended on a very poor note, going 0-for-13 in the 2006 ALCS as the A’s lost to the Tigers. He was a career .224/.441/.429 hitter with three homers and five RBI in 49 postseason at-bats.

Report: Extension talks between Mets, Neil Walker are “probably dead”

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 21: Neil Walker #20 of the New York Mets sits in the dugout before the game against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on August 21, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  The New York Mets defeated the San Francisco Giants 2-0. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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On Sunday, it was reported that second baseman Neil Walker and the Mets were discussing a potential three-year contract extension worth “north of $40 million.” Those discussions took a turn for the worse. The Mets feel extension talks are “probably dead,” according to Mike Puma of the New York Post.

Walker underwent a lumbar microdisectomy in September, ending his 2016 season during which he hit .282/.347/.476 with 23 home runs and 55 RBI over 458 plate appearances.

The Mets may not necessarily need to keep Walker around as it has some potential options up the middle waiting in the minor leagues. Though Amed Rosario is expected to stick at shortstop, Gavin Cecchini — the club’s No. 3 prospect according to MLB Pipeline — could shift over to second base.

Rick Ankiel drank vodka before a start to deal with the yips

9 Apr 2000: Rick Ankiel #66 of the St. Louis Cardinals winds back to pitch the ball during the game against the Milwaukee Brweers at the Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri. The Cardinals defeated the Brewers 11-2. Mandatory Credit: Elsa Hasch  /Allsport
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The story of Rick Ankiel is well known by now. He was a phenom pitcher who burst onto the scene with the Cardinals in 1999 and into the 2000 season as one of the top young talents in the game. Then, in the 2000 playoffs, he melted down. He got the yips. Whatever you want to call it, he lost the ability to throw strikes and his pitching career was soon over. He came back, however, against all odds, and remade his career as a solid outfielder.

It’s inspirational and incredible. But there is a lot more to the story that we’ve ever known. We will soon, however, as Ankiel is coming out with a book. Today he took to the airwaves and shared some about it. Including some amazing stuff:

On drinking in his first start after the famous meltdown in Game One of the 2000 National League division series against the Braves:

“Before that game…I’m scared to death. I know I have no chance. Feeling the pressure of all that, right before the game I get a bottle of vodka. I just started drinking vodka. Low and behold, it kind of tamed the monster, and I was able to do what I wanted. I’m sitting on the bench feeling crazy I have to drink vodka to pitch through this. It worked for that game. (I had never drank before a game before). It was one of those things like the yipps, the monster, the disease…it didn’t fight fair so I felt like I wasn’t going to fight fair either.”

Imagine spending your whole life getting to the pinnacle of your career. Then imagine it immediately disintegrating. And then imagine having to go out and do it again in front of millions. It’s almost impossible for anyone to contemplate and, as such, it’s hard to judge almost anything Ankiel did in response to that when he was 21 years-old. That Ankiel got through that and made a career for himself is absolutely amazing. It’s a testament to his drive and determination.