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Ankiel reportedly retires, seeks front office job

Ankiel reportedly retires, seeks front office job

Pitcher-turned-outfielder Rick Ankiel has officially retired, according to an announcement made on Wednesday's Cardinals Spring Training broadcast.

The announcement -- made by St. Louis broadcaster Dan McLaughlin -- puts an end to the career of one of the most intriguing players of the past decade and one of the sport's best comeback stories.

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Ankiel was released by the Mets on June 11 last season and had been reportedly looking for a contract until Wednesday's broadcast. According to McLaughlin, Ankiel is now hoping to find a front-office job somewhere.

Drafted by the Cardinals in 1997 out of high school in Port St. Lucie, Fla., Ankiel made his Major League debut as a pitcher for St. Louis two years later at age 20. Entering the 2000 season, he was rated the game's top overall prospect by Baseball America.

After a solid regular season, Ankiel came unraveled in the playoffs. He made one start against the Braves in the National League Division Series, in which he allowed four runs in 2 2/3 innings and threw five wild pitches. Then, in an NL Championship Series start against the Mets, Ankiel lasted only two-thirds of an inning, throwing five of his 33 pitches to the backstop. After a similarly rough relief outing later in the series, Ankiel had completely lost his control.

He struggled in 2001 and was quickly sent to the Minor Leagues, and a year later he underwent Tommy John surgery. On the mound at least, Ankiel never fully recovered -- though he did pitch 10 innings as a reliever for the Cardinals in 2004.

But always one of the league's more adept pitchers with the bat, Ankiel made a return to the Majors as an outfielder for St. Louis in 2007. That turned out to be Ankiel's best season at the plate, as he posted a .285/.328/.535 slash line with 25 homers.

Ankiel would go on to spend seven seasons as a big league outfielder -- primarily in center -- where he showed off one of the game's best arms.

In total, Ankiel played for six teams, hitting .240 with a career .422 slugging percentage and 76 homers.

AJ Cassavell is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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