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Ankiel signs with Royals

It's sad to see him go. But Rick Ankiel is officially an ex-Cardinal.

He signed a one-year deal Thursday night with Kansas City, according to Yahoo that will pay him $3.25 million in 2010. The contract includes a mutual option for 2011 that would pay the former pitcher $6 million.

Ankiel's story, which saw him burst onto the scene in 1999 as a highly-touted lefty pitcher only to flame out with perplexing control problems and then re-emerge as a power-hitting outfielder, is a compelling and remarkable one. Sitting in the bleachers and watching Ankiel blast a pair of homers in his major league debut as a position player was something I'll never forget.

But Ankiel needed to go to a team like the Royals that would give him an opportunity to try to win a starting job and get lots of at-bats. He simply wasn't going to beat out Matt Holliday, Colby Rasmus or Ryan Ludwick in the Cardinals outfield and it wasn't going to do him any good to sit on the bench and watch.

I'm glad he was able to find a job and keep his career going. Hopefully Ankiel will be healthier in 2010 than he was the last two seasons when nagging injuries damaged his numbers.

While a lot of Cardinals fans hate to see him go, at least Little Ricky didn't sign with the Cubs.