Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Missing The Shark? Rick Ankiel Isn't...

On July 29th, Rick Ankiel took over CF and leadoff responsibilities for the Nationals, and Roger "The Shark" Bernadina was sent down to make room for Chien-Ming Wang's first MLB start in more than 2 years. It was ultimately an extremely bizarre weekend in NatsTown that consisted of weird pitching performances, to veterans traded, and no real roster moves of note before the non-waiver trade deadline.

One person who didn't care much about all the trade hype was Rick Ankiel. With Bernie gone, he's made good work of the opportunities awarded to him. In the 4 games since Roger was sent down to Syracuse, Ankiel has driven in 8 runs and netted 5 hits in 17 at-bats. All of this peaked when Ankiel crushed a grand slam against Derek Lowe and the Braves on Tuesday night to deep, deep center field. The hit total during this stretch aren't stellar, but the RBIs are nice, even from a leadoff man.

Ankiel's range in CF continues to be above average, and his arm is well... that of a former star pitcher. Meanwhile, in Triple-A Syracuse, Bernie is doing just fine. He's only played in 2 games since being sent down, but he's already 4 for 8 with a home run, 3 walks, and 2 stolen bases.

Now, by no means is Ankiel a long-term solution in CF, or in the leadoff spot, but for now, he can fill the role while the Nats figure out what they're going to do. Bernie will probably come back up before the season is out, and Ankiel is probably not a member of this team's 25-man roster in April 2012. But I'll be damned if he hasn't been fun to watch over the last 4 days.

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