Ankiel up

Friday, August 10, 2007
Rick Ankiel returned to the majors Thursday for the first time since appearing as a pitcher in 2004. (Associated Press file)

The pitcher-turned-outfielder was promoted fromClass AAA Memphis, where he had 32 home runs.

ST. LOUIS -- Rick Ankiel returned to the major leagues Thursday as an outfielder -- and quickly put on a power display.

After flopping in his attempt to rejoin the St. Louis Cardinals as a pitcher in 2005, Ankiel was called up from the minors and hit a three-run homer in the seventh inning off San Diego's Doug Brocail. Ankiel drove a 2-1 pitch into the right-field stands to put St. Louis ahead 5-0.

Ankiel, who was greeted with a standing ovation before his first at-bat, drew another lengthy ovation and took a curtain call after hitting his third career homer. He hit two in 2000, when he was a phenom left-hander.

"I set a goal for myself to get back here, so I feel good that I reached it," Ankiel said. "I'm looking forward to reaching my next goal, which is staying here."

Rick Ankiel gets ready for an at-bat in his first game in the majors since 2004. (Tom Gannam ~ Associated Press)

Ankiel was hitting .267 with a Pacific Coast League-leading 32 homers and 89 RBIs in 102 games at Class AAA Memphis.

Ankiel made his major league pitching debut at age 19 in August 2000.

The hard-throwing lefty won 11 games and struck out 194 in 175 innings as a rookie in 2000.

He started the Cardinals' postseason opener that season, and he became the first major league pitcher to throw five wild pitches in one inning since 1890. He threw nine wild pitches in four innings and never really was the same after that.

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