ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals avoided arbitration with Rick Ankiel, signing the outfielder to a one-year deal on Friday. The contract is reportedly worth $900,000, with incentives that could push it to $1 million.
Ankiel presented a curious case had he gone to arbitration. He has the service time to make him eligible for the process, but less than half a season as an outfielder to establish his value. Ankiel was previously a pitcher.
In his first season as a full-time hitter in the Majors, Ankiel was a force. He hit .285 with a .328 on-base percentage, .535 slugging percentage and 11 home runs in 47 games. He is likely to begin the 2008 season as the Cardinals' primary center fielder.
Encarnacion update: The Cardinals remain uncertain about Juan Encarnacion's status as the outfielder recovers from severe eye injuries he sustained when he was hit by a foul ball. Encarnacion is in Boston receiving treatment for his condition.
General manager John Mozeliak said on Wednesday that the club's own doctors haven't seen Encarnacion for quite some time, but that there is little optimism for Encarnacion's playing prospects for 2008.
"As far as an update on whether he'll play or not," Mozeliak said, "I would say it's probably likely he will not. But until we actually see him in St. Louis and get our own doctors to deal with that, it will be hard for me to answer that firmly."
Looking inward: Mozeliak also said Wednesday that he does not anticipate signing a potential leadoff man before Spring Training starts. That means that the top of the order will be filled from among players currently with St. Louis. Candidates for at least a share of the job may include Skip Schumaker, Brian Barton, Adam Kennedy and Aaron Miles.
Coaching staffs announced: The Cardinals announced their Minor League coaching staffs on Thursday, a list that included two managerial changes. Steve Dillard moves from the hitting coach at high Class A Palm Beach to the manager of low Class A Quad Cities. Nelson Norman takes over as manager of the Cards' Dominican Summer League team.
Several affiliates saw changes at the pitching coach position. Blaise Ilsley moves up from Double-A Springfield to Triple-A Memphis, Bryan Eversgerd from Quad Cities to Springfield and Dennis Martinez from the Gulf Coast League Cardinals to Palm Beach. Mark Budaska, who spent the last four years as the hitting coach for the Red Sox's Triple-A Pawtucket affiliate, takes the same job at Memphis.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.