It has been seven years since Rick Ankiel last played for the Cardinals, for whom he had a career unlike anyone in the storied history of the franchise. And he’s coming back soon to St. Louis, this time to talk about — rather than play for — the team.
He played for five clubs after leaving the Cardinals after the 2009 season and finished his big-league career with the Mets in 2013. Now Ankiel, master of the position change, is trying another one as he has been hired by Fox Sports Midwest as a studio analyst for some of its Redbirds pregame and postgame shows.
He's set to make his debut at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday before the Cards play in Cincinnati, then be on hand for the following three nights as well as a few more appearances in the coming months.
“When I was playing I didn’t really think too much about" getting into broadcasting, he said. “I was always so focused on playing that I didn’t give much thought to afterwards.”
Last season he served as the “life skills coordinator” for the Washington Nationals, a mentorship role that seemed fitting given his varied and sometimes difficult experiences.
“I loved what I did,” he said. “But before I go too far down one road and can’t go try the other, I figured I might as well try it all. Why not try the broadcasting stuff? At least get my feet wet with the pre- and postgame shows and see where it goes — see if I like it.”
There was a need for Cardinals studio help this summer at FSM. Rick Horton did a lot of TV work in the past; now he's on the KMOX radio broadcasts for road games to replace Mike Shannon, who only broadcasts home games.
So Ankiel is being added to the “Cardinals Live!” show rotation that has featured former Cardinals pitcher Brad Thompson a lot lately.
“He’s really well liked by Cardinals fans. He’s always received warmly in St. Louis," Fox Sports Midwest general manager Jack Donovan said.
“He’s a guest analyst — emphasizing it’s a guest/temporary thing. But sometimes those lead to other things ... and he looks and talks great and has great potential.”