Ankiel will miss time with knee injury; Cards top Florida Atlantic

Wednesday, March 1, 2006

The former pitcher could miss up to two weeks of spring training.

JUPITER, Fla. -- Rick Ankiel, the former pitching phenom trying to make the St. Louis Cardinals as an outfielder, will miss 10 to 14 days of spring training after injuring his left knee, the team said Tuesday.

Ankiel suffered the injury during an intrasquad game Monday. He had been scheduled to start Tuesday's exhibition game in center field against Florida Atlantic University.

An MRI on Tuesday revealed a strained patella tendon.

"Yesterday he felt a little twinge in his knee," assistant team physician Robert Shivley said. "It was pretty well localized to the bottom end of his kneecap, in the patellar tendon."

"We're going to reevaluate him in 10 days, two weeks, and hopefully he'll be ready to go by then," Shivley said.

Ankiel, 26, had been impressive in spring workouts. He batted a combined .259 with 21 home runs and 75 RBIs in 85 games split between Double-A Springfield and Class A Quad Cities last season.

Ankiel was considered a can't-miss left-hander when the Cardinals chose him in the second round out of high school in the 1997 draft. His pitching career was derailed in the 2000 playoffs when he threw nine wild pitches in four postseason innings, and he never recovered.

He was always considered a very good hitter for a pitcher, with a .207 career average and two homers, a double, a triple and nine RBIs in 87 major league at-bats.

In Tuesday's game, the exhibition opener for St. Louis, Scott Spiezio's pinch-hit RBI double broke a 1-1 tie in the eighth, and Reid Gorecki followed with a three-run homer. It was part of a six-run inning as the Cardinals rallied to beat Florida Atlantic 6-1.

Florida Atlantic's lone run came in the seventh when Cardinals first baseman Chris Duncan missed a throw from pitcher Rich Rundles. None of the Cardinals' anticipated starters played in the game.

The Cardinals have no game today and play their first spring training game against a major league team Thursday, hosting the New York Mets.

Noteworthy

* The Cardinals announced that catcher Yadier Molina and outfielder John Rod-riguez have agreed to one-year contracts. Terms were not disclosed.

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