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Hitting not new to Ankiel

Rick Ankiel's athletic ability makes his move from the mound to the outfield an option, and his hitting background, as both a professional and as an amateur, indicate his move to the outfield has a small chance of succeeding.

As a major leaguer, Ankiel is 18-for-87, including a .250/.292/.382 season in 2000, when he went 11-7, 3.50 on the mound. Ankiel also homered twice that season, which is when his control problems cropped up in the playoffs.

When his wildness forced him out of the big leagues in 2001, the Cardinals dropped Ankiel to Rookie-level Johnson City in the Appalachian League to clear his head. As a 22-year-old, Ankiel pitched and hit for Johnson City and hit .286-10-35, striking out 26 times in 105 at-bats. If he had qualified, he would have led the league with a .638 slugging percentage.

In 1997, as a high school senior, Ankiel played for USA Baseball's junior national team, which won a bronze medal in the World Championships. The roster included future big leaguers such as Reds outfielder Austin Kearns, Rockies outfielder Matt Holliday and Twins infielder Michael Cuddyer. Kearns led the team in hitting and Cuddyer topped the club in home runs and RBI. Ankiel, meanwhile, was the team's fourth-leading batter, hitting .387-3-16 in 62 at-bats.

"At the time, (Rick) was as good a hitter as he was a pitcher," said Paul Seiler, CEO of USA Baseball and the general manager of the U.S. Junior national team in '97. "He's athletic enough to do it; he flipped between pitching and first base for us with Austin Kearns, who was considered more of a pitcher in high school.

"He was a smooth hitter who could go yard at any time. He was hitting against legit guys in our trials like Ryan Anderson, Matt Riley, Corey Vance, Kearns ... It would be a great story if he were able to become a contributor as a hitter."