Brian McTaggart reports that the Astros have invited Rick Ankiel to Spring Training as a non-roster invitee.
Ankiel is most famous for his conversion from pitching to the outfield following an odd breakdown on the mound during the 2000 NLCS, where he completely lost the ability to throw strikes. He had 9 wild pitches and 11 walks in 4 innings pitched during that series. It was hard to watch.
After failing to conquer his Steve Blass Disease, he returned to the Cardinals as an outfielder. He showed some power initially, hitting 25 home runs in 2008, but, never really conquered the strike zone. He has played most recently with the Washington Nationals. He was pretty terrible the last two seasons, putting up a .236/.292/.377 slash line. He was not any better in the two years before that. (.232/.298/.388).
There's clearly not much there in the batter's box anymore. Maybe he wants to try pitching again? Either way, there is zero risk attached to this move. Almost zero potential reward, too.
UPDATE: Turns out, there is at least some possibility that he might try to pitch again. That would make this situation significantly more interesting, if not any more likely to be successful. Thanks to @KevinBassStache for the heads up.
2ND UPDATE: Welp, there goes that. McTaggart confirms Ankiel will be coming back as a hitter.