Rick Ankiel announces attempt to come back as a reliever

Elsa Hasch / Allsport
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Former major leaguer Rick Ankiel recently pitched in the Bluegrass World Series, a tournament that pits former major leaguers against college and semi-pro players. The 39-year-old lefty pitched an inning in the game, recording a strikeout. Ankiel also threw a runner out from right field and went 2-for-4 at the plate with two runs batted in.

On Monday, Ankiel officially announced his plan to attempt a comeback as a relief pitcher. Ankiel currently serves as an analyst for FOX Sports Midwest, so that’s where he made his announcement:

Of note, Ankiel said, “When I take a look at pros and cons, I can make a whole list of pros. I got nothing on the cons. Zero.” He added, “When you take a look at baseball, the game has swung back around to my style of pitching when you walk about the big curve balls, fastballs up. So I feel like why not come back as a lefty reliever and put one more chapter in the book.”

Ankiel plans to take his comeback attempt seriously. He said, “Obviously, for the Bluegrass World Series, I wasn’t in what you would call pitching shape, so I’m going to take the next three, four months here and the offseason to get in the best shape I possibly can and see what it feels like.”

Ankiel last appeared in the majors in 2013 but he hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since 2004. He famously battled a case of the “yips” in the 2000 postseason. He pitched only 24 innings in 2001 and 10 in ’04 before transitioning to become a full-time outfielder. He didn’t play in the majors in 2005-06, then returned with the Cardinals in ’07. Ankiel also wore the uniform of the Royals, Braves, Nationals, Astros, and Mets before fading out after the 2013 season.

Texas Rangers ink free-agent ace Jacob deGrom to 5-year deal

Jacob deGrom
USA Today
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ARLINGTON, Texas — Free-agent ace Jacob deGrom and the Texas Rangers agreed to a $185 million, five-year contract Friday.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner leaves the New York Mets after nine seasons – the past two shortened by injuries.

After making his first start last season in early August, deGrom went 5-4 with a 3.08 ERA in 11 outings. He helped the Mets reach the playoffs, then opted out of his contract to become a free agent.

Texas announced the signing Friday night after the 34-year-old deGrom passed his physical. A person with direct knowledge of the deal disclosed the financial terms to The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the club did not announce those details.

“We are thrilled that Jacob deGrom has decided to become a Texas Ranger,” executive vice president and general manager Chris Young said in a statement. “Over a number of seasons, Jacob has been a standout major league pitcher, and he gives us a dominant performer at the top of our rotation. One of our primary goals this offseason is to strengthen our starting pitching, and we are adding one of the best.”

Texas went 68-94 last season and then hired Bruce Bochy as its new manager. The Rangers’ six straight losing seasons are their worst skid since the franchise moved from Washington in 1972.

The Rangers were big spenders in free agency last offseason, signing Corey Seager ($325 million, 10 years) and second baseman Marcus Semien ($175 million, seven years).