Cardinals pitcher Ankiel moving to outfield

? Rick Ankiel couldn’t find the plate, and now he won’t take the mound.

The left-hander surprised the team Wednesday 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 Wednesday that was rained out. He had yet to appear in a spring training game.

Ankiel’s problems began when La Russa made him the surprise Game 1 starter in the 2000 playoffs after sending Darryl Kile to meet with media the day before the game to lessen the pressure.

In the postseason opener against the Braves, Ankiel became the first major league player since 1890 to throw five wild pitches in one inning, and he totaled nine wild pitches in four playoff innings.