Rick Ankiel announces attempt to come back as a reliever

Elsa Hasch / Allsport

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.

Free agent slugger José Abreu signs 3-year, $58.5M deal with Astros

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

HOUSTON — Jose Abreu and the World Series champion Astros agreed to a three-year, $58.5 million contract, adding another powerful bat to Houston’s lineup.

Abreu, the 2020 AL MVP, gets $19.5 million in each of the next three seasons.

He spent his first nine major league seasons with the Chicago White Sox. The first baseman became a free agent after batting .304 with 15 home runs, 75 RBIs and an .824 OPS this year.

With the Astros, he replaces Yuli Gurriel at first base in a batting order that also features All-Star sluggers Yordan Alvarez, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker.

Gurriel became a free agent after Houston defeated the Philadelphia Phillies this month for its second World Series championship.

The 35-year-old Abreu becomes the biggest free agent to switch teams so far this offseason. Born in Cuba, the three-time All-Star and 2014 AL Rookie of the Year is a .292 career hitter in the majors with 243 homers, 863 RBIs and an .860 OPS.

The Astros announced the signing. Abreu was scheduled to be introduced in a news conference at Minute Maid Park.

He would get a $200,000 for winning an MVP award, $175,000 for finishing second in the voting, $150,000 for third, $125,000 for fourth and $100,000 for fifth. Abreu also would get $100,000 for earning World Series MVP and $75,000 for League Championship Series MVP, $75,000 for making the All-Star team and $75,000 for winning a Gold Glove or a Silver Slugger.

Abreu gets a hotel suite on road trips and the right to buy a luxury suite for all Astros home games.