Ankiel says he feels better already

JUPITER, Fla. -- Rick Ankiel began life as outfielder Thursday.

The former pitcher was a designated hitter during a St. Louis Cardinals intersquad game and went 1-for-2 with a single off Brad Thompson and a broken-bat groundout.

Those two plate appearances matched his total from last September with the Cardinals when he was 0-for-1 with a walk.

Ankiel, 25, ended his pitching career following record wildness and injuries. He told manager Tony La Russa earlier this week, "I'm done."

La Russa and general manager Walt Jocketty asked Ankiel to consider trying the outfield and take a day off to think about it.

"I was as frustrated as could be," Ankiel said. "I wasn't
sure if I still wanted to be a part of the game or not."

Ankiel said he felt as if a dark cloud above his head had

"You sleep better, that's for sure," he said. "I wake up
happy to come here."

Ankiel has a .207 career average in the major leagues with two
homers, a double, a triple and nine RBI in 87 at-bats. He
impressed as a designated hitter for the Cardinals' rookie league
team in Johnson City, Tenn., when he hit 10 homers in 2001.

"He did that without a lot of batting practice," La Russa said. "He really has a nice stroke."

La Russa believes Ankiel will have an easier time getting up to
speed as an outfielder. He played left field, right field and first
base in high school.

"He's way behind, but he's talented so talent makes up for a
lot," La Russa said. "I'm not too worried about his outfield
play, it'll come. I think he'll get there quick to where he's not a

The Cardinals are unsure at which minor league level Ankiel will start his new career. He'll have to clear waivers to be sent to the
minor leagues because he's out of options.