Awaiting A Full Year From Ankiel

Yes, yes, we know: We have a bit of a bit of a blind spot when it comes to Rick Ankiel. But now that the lunacy of the final two months of last season are past us ... is the guy really ready to be an every day outfielder.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch asked that question this morning, and it's key, because the Cardinals are counting on him this year. The thing about great stories — and regardless your view on Ankiel and HGH and whatever, last year was a great story — is that inevitably they have to keep going. The flash is over; now he has to be a regular player. And protect Albert Pujols in the lineup. Is he really ready for that?

We Cardinals fans are far from certain this tale is over, and we've been through too much not to be a little wary. If Ankiel starts off slowly, we are all going to fret. Is he going to lose it again? Is he ready for all this again? Forgive us: We still think of Ankiel as this troubled but good-hearted nephew we root for in more ways than just on-the-field. It will almost seem strange to see him as just another player, another outfielder, a guy on our fantasy team. We want him to do well for our team, but mostly, still, we just want him to do well for himself. We have 162 more games to find out, very soon.

Ankiel Ready To Provide Protection? [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]