Rick Ankiel couldn't find the plate, and now he won't take the mound.
The St. Louis Cardinals lefthander surprised the team yesterday when he turned his back on a pitching career derailed by injuries and record wildness, saying he'll try to hit his way back to the major leagues as an outfielder.
"The frustration that built up, it seems like it was really eroding my spirit and starting to affect my personality off the field," Ankiel said."It just became apparent that it was time for me to move on and pursue becoming an outfielder."
Manager Tony La Russa and general manager Walt Jocketty said they didn't try to persuade Ankiel to stick with pitching. "Rick's gone through a lot of tough times," La Russa said. "He's been hurt twice and went through that wildness period, and he just wasn't getting the payback for going through all of that, evidently."
Ankiel, 25, had been scheduled to start in a B game yesterday that was rained out.
Wood's shoulder tightens
Kerry Wood took himself out of the Cubs' Cactus League game against Texas with tightness in his right shoulder. Wood threw two innings, allowing one run on two hits with two walks and one strikeout. He threw 22 pitches in the first inning and 17 in the second. Wood downplayed the ailment. "Nothing is sore," he said. "Nothing hurts. It just was a little bit tight." . . . Cleveland outfielder Juan Gonzalez has a strained left hamstring. "Juan felt some tightness and I won't really know a lot more until he gets out there on a good day and gives it a try," manager Eric Wedge said. Gonzalez, 35, is back with Cleveland after three injury-plagued seasons with Texas and Kansas City . . . Ken Griffey will play today for the first time this spring after weeks of a go-slow approach mandated by the Cincinnati Reds as he returns from a torn hamstring. The Reds plan to use Griffey as a designated hitter against the Detroit Tigers. Griffey, 35, has been sidelined by serious injuries each of the last four seasons and had surgery last Aug. 16 on his right hamstring . . . Barry Bonds's swing looks ready to be tested in an exhibition game. Bonds took batting practice for the third straight day and also shagged fly balls in left field for the first time, a sign he's progressing in his rehabilitation from arthroscopic knee surgery Jan. 31.