Rick Ankiel Announces He's Attempting MLB Comeback as Relief Pitcher in 2019

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistAugust 7, 2018

New York Mets center fielder Rick Ankiel (16) reacts to striking out in the 15th inning of a baseball game against the Miami Marlins at Citi Field in New York, Saturday, June 8, 2013. Miami won 2-1 in 20 innings. (AP Photo/Paul J. Bereswill)
Paul Bereswill/Associated Press

Former MLB pitcher and outfielder Rick Ankiel confirmed on Monday he plans on training for a potential return to baseball in 2019.

Prior to the St. Louis Cardinals' game against the Miami Marlins on Fox Sports Midwest, Ankiel said he is looking to come back as a reliever:

FOX Sports Midwest @FSMidwest

Major announcement from @TheeRickAnkiel: He’s planning a comeback as a relief pitcher for the 2019 season! #STLCards https://t.co/eXNuLQHHS5

In announcing his decision, Ankiel said his pitching approach will be a good fit for the current trends in baseball.

"When you take a look at baseball, the game has swung back around to my style of pitching," he said. "We talk about the big curveball, the fastballs up, so I feel like why not come back as a lefty reliever and put one more chapter on the book."

Ankiel was the runner-up for National League Rookie of the Year in 2000, when he finished 11-7 with a 3.50 ERA in 31 appearances. However, that year's postseason proved disastrous for Ankiel, as he walked 11 batters in four innings. In Game 1 of the National League Division Series, he threw five wild pitches in one inning.

The 39-year-old Ankiel hasn't appeared in an MLB game since June 8, 2013. He played in 45 games that year between spells with the Houston Astros and New York Mets.

The left-hander already defied the odds when he successfully transitioned to an outfield role. Upon moving to the outfield in 2007, he played seven seasons in the big leagues, batting .242 with 74 home runs and 242 RBI.

If Ankiel can successfully reinvent himself once, nobody in 2019 should be too surprised if he does it again.