Ankiel runs into wall; X-rays negative

Ankiel runs into wall; X-rays negative

ST. LOUIS -- Cardinals outfielder Rick Ankiel was taken to a hospital on Monday night after he injured himself making a catch at the wall in the eighth inning of St. Louis' game against the Phillies. Ankiel hit headfirst against the left-center-field wall after making a catch on a deep line drive by Phillies third baseman Pedro Feliz.

According to a statement the club released late on Monday night, Ankiel underwent X-rays and a CT scan of his head, neck and back, and all were negative and showed no fractures.

Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said that Ankiel had movement and feeling in his arms and legs, and that according to the team's head physician, Dr. George Paletta, Ankiel never lost consciousness on the play. A club official said that Ankiel checked out as "neurologically intact" both on the field and at the hospital.

"He was never knocked out," Mozeliak said. "He never lost consciousness. My understanding was that he had some discomfort in the face area, obviously, from hitting the wall. But for the most part right now, we're encouraged based on Dr. Paletta's first [evaluation], just getting to see him on the field."

Feliz hit a drive to left-center with one out in the eighth. Ankiel chased the ball down and made the catch, but couldn't stop himself in time to avoid contact with the wall. He was barely able to brace himself, and his head hit the outfield wall at an awkward angle. Ankiel fell to the warning track and the ball came out of his left hand.

Outfielder Chris Duncan was the closest to Ankiel at the time. He threw the ball to the infield then rushed to attend to his friend and teammate.

"He went down and I thought maybe he might be unconscious," Duncan said. "So I tried to talk to him. I said, 'Are you all right?' and he said, 'I think so. I'm just going to lay here.' He said he had hit the wall hard and he [thought] he was all right, but he [was] not going to move. He said his back hurt a little bit, but he could feel everything and he didn't want to move. I told him to hold on and that they were coming out."

As Ankiel lay still on the track, many of his teammates came out to check on him, as did manager Tony La Russa, head athletic trainer Barry Weinberg and later Paletta. Ankiel was lifted onto a cart and driven off the field.

"It's tough, man," said starting pitcher Kyle Lohse. "Hopefully he's going to be all right. I haven't really heard too much. He's a tough guy. Going as hard as you can into a wall like that, it's amazing."

Some movement from Ankiel was visible, including a thumbs-up gesture as he was carted off.

"Being on the bench, it was tough," said Phillies slugger Ryan Howard. "We saw him get over there to the ball and I was like 'Aw, man, he caught it.' And then I saw him try to gather himself and he stumbled a bit and I was like 'Aw, man, he's going into the wall.' As soon as he hit, the first thing is that you just want to see him move. When I saw him, he just lay there and didn't move at all and I was just waiting to see if he was going to move. But when they carted him off and he gave the thumbs up, it was a good feeling."

Colby Rasmus took Ankiel's place in center field. Rasmus is likely to play center field for as long as Ankiel is unavailable. It's unclear whether the Cardinals will place Ankiel on the disabled list or make another roster move. For the time being, the concern is more about Ankiel's health than anything on the field.

"It's tough," said Ryan Franklin, who threw the pitch that Feliz hit. "That's like one of your brothers out there, a family member laying down and can't move."

Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.