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Early Rehab Results Don't Look Good For Rick Ankiel Or Royals

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The Royals have yet to see returns on one of their most promising potential investments of the offseason: Rick Ankiel. Unfortunately, given the early signs of his current rehab assignment, it doesn't look to get any better.

To give you the back story (since it'd be understandable if you stopped paying much attention), the Royals inked the former St. Louis Cardinals slugger to a one-year deal contingent on his physical -- which he did pass. The total of $3.25 million was seen as a solid risk by most pundits, considering the power potential of adding a guy with 25 homers just two seasons prior. In need of a slugger, a guy coming off of injury (from 2009's collision with an outfield wall) was a decent bet.

Unfortunately for all involved, it hasn't worked out. Ankiel's missed more than 30 games since hitting the disabled list retroactive to May 3. His strained quadricep has plagued him for more than a month and even now in a rehab stint, Ankiel went 0-for-4. The key is this: he struck out all four times. That's not a pretty sign and it shows that perhaps he's lost the ability to generate the proper leg power for a good swing. Who knows?

The issue here is not only Ankiel's injury history, but the fact that a strained quad can really linger for a long time. Even with a top-notch training staff, these are the kinds of injuries that flare up again if activity is resumed too soon and is prone to reoccurrence. Four Ks in four ABs at the Triple-A level reveals that Ankiel's timing is off at the very least and that he's unable to generate a proper swing at the worst. And that will keep him on the DL for a bit longer.

With such an injury, perhaps the best approach is to keep him on an All-Star Break timetable. It's in Ankiel's financial interests to turn it on at some point, even as KC's post-season chances continue to slip away. So the Royals, at some point, should benefit from a productive Ankiel in the lineup. Then again, that's what they were banking on in the first place.