Catcher Jason LaRue, racing from the bullpen to the left-center field wall, was one of the first St. Louis Cardinals to reach Rick Ankiel as he lay on the warning track Monday night. He had a view of the catch, the stumble, the crash and then he was part of the dash of teammates to Ankiel’s side.
“The most significant part of what we all I saw, I think, is that is shows Ank doesn’t play with any fear of running into the wall. He’s going to make the play. He plays without fear. He’s a gamer.”
In the eighth inning, Ankiel made a running catch of Pedro Feliz’s drive to left-center field. After snagging the line drive, Ankiel stumbled as he transferred the ball to his throwing hand and rammed headlong the padded wall. Ankiel was strapped to a backboard and taken to a nearby hospital, where scans of his head, neck and back did not reveal any fractures. His recovery was “positive” as of Tuesday morning, according to an official.
“The only thing I know was that he was conscious when he got there. He was conscious when they took him off the field,” LaRue said. “That’s a huge sign. That was what we needed to see.”
There was a sense of relief in the Cardinals clubhouse late Monday as word reached a few players and the manager that initial exams of Ankiel were positive. Same will certainly be true this afternoon if he arrives at the ballpark as expected.