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.