Ankiel Released from Hospital

By: AP Email
By: AP Email

Cardinals outfielder Rick Ankiel was released from a hospital Tuesday after tests showed he sustained no significant injuries while crashing headfirst into the wall a night earlier.

He's far too sore to play, and wasn't in the lineup Tuesday night against the Philadelphia Phillies. In fact, he left Busch Stadium several hours before gametime to have a doctor examine his sore left shoulder.

The team postponed a decision whether to place him on the 15-day disabled list, depending on how much better he's feeling in a few days. St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said Ankiel was "beat-up," but added, "It's worth waiting a couple of days because there wasn't anything broken. Just in case he can go."

X-rays and a CT scan of Ankiel's head, neck and back showed no fractures.

Holding off on a move left La Russa with only three position players on the bench for the finale of a two-game set against the Phillies, because the Cardinals are using a 13-man pitching staff during a run of 20 straight games without a day off.

La Russa said he spent the night in a chair next to Ankiel, who's been with the Cardinals since they drafted him in the second round in 1997 as a high school pitching phenom in Florida.

The center fielder's badly dented hat, which absorbed a bit of the collision during the catch, was on a shelf in the manager's office.

"It wasn't a good night's sleep," La Russa said. "A lot of things in that game were upsetting."

Ankiel chased down Pedro Feliz's long drive in the eighth inning against the Phillies but couldn't stop himself from crashing into the padded center-field wall. He took 2½ off-balance steps after making the tough catch and took the ball out of his glove before attempting to brace himself with his left arm.

Still, his head appeared to absorb most of the blow.

The 3-inch padded wall in left-center no doubt spared Ankiel from serious injury. Right fielder Ryan Ludwick said the wall was hard, "but it's not like concrete."

"He just lunged into it," La Russa said. "The padding's definitely better than if there had been no padding, but it was still a shock."

The team was relieved when Ankiel flashed a thumbs-up sign as he was carted off the field.

"Hopefully, it doesn't happen again," teammate Brendan Ryan said. "It's just one of those freak things, and I hope we get him back real soon."

Ryan said Ankiel felt well enough to exchange text messages Monday night. Ryan told Ankiel "heck of a play but you scared us," and Ankiel responded "can't wait till we're both healthy and see who can make better plays."


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