Out of hospital, Ankiel back in clubhouse

Out of hospital, Ankiel in clubhouse

ST. LOUIS -- Sore but moving around well, Rick Ankiel returned to the Cardinals' clubhouse Tuesday, barely 20 hours after his frightening collision with the left-center field wall at Busch Stadium.

Ankiel was released from the hospital Tuesday morning. He came by the stadium briefly, left again for further evaluation of his injuries, and returned shortly before 6 p.m. CT. As he took some good-natured ribbing from his teammates and answered reporters' questions, Ankiel was in good spirits.

"Right before the wall, I thought, 'Oh [no]. This ain't going to work out good,'" Ankiel said. "And then as I hit it, I remember my eyes were open and I could pretty much see my whole head twist around on this side. And then when I hit the ground, I don't know, I thought there was a chance I had broken my neck or my back."

However, at this point his injuries are considered to be relatively minor, in light of what might have happened. He said that he is "total-body sore," but a battery of exams revealed no broken bones.

Ankiel noted particular discomfort in his right shoulder, neck and left side on Tuesday. It was the right shoulder pain that led him to receive the additional checkup Tuesday afternoon. Ankiel underwent an MRI exam that showed a deep contusion/bruising of his right shoulder. The exam showed no structural damage.

The Cardinals elected not to make a roster move with Ankiel as of Tuesday, but left open the possibility that they still might place the outfielder on the 15-day disabled list.

"I think we have to wait a couple days," manager Tony La Russa said. "It's worth waiting a couple days. There wasn't anything broken, so better [to wait] just in case he can go."

In the eighth inning of Monday night's game, Phillies third baseman Pedro Feliz hit a deep line drive to left-center field. Ankiel chased it down and made the catch, but stumbled as he was trying to slow himself down. That prevented him from sliding or rolling, and exposed him to a violent crash.

"Initially I was going to try to slide into the wall, but I tripped," he said. "And then once I started to go forward I couldn't get my hands up."

Ankiel remained as motionless as possible, in hopes of keeping from aggravating any injuries he had sustained. He was immobilized and carted off the field, then taken to an area hospital.

"My lower back was really tight, tense," he recalled. "And in between my shoulder blades I felt like somebody was kind of stabbing me. I think I was stunned. I wasn't unconscious, no. But I was definitely stunned. And then after that, I knew not to move."

Ankiel acknowledged that he was fortunate that his injuries were no more severe following his awkward impact with the wall.

"Absolutely," he said. "No question. When you don't get a chance to put a hand up to protect yourself in the fashion that happened, yeah, I'm lucky to be walking today. Anything from here is a plus."

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