Following a forearm injury that has kept him out since April, the former right-handed starting pitcher will attempt to re-invent himself as a hitter, and plans to report to the Padres' Arizona League affiliate in Peoria, before eventually moving on to Triple-A Tuscon.
Unlike Ankiel, however, Owings' change is not due to a case of Steve Blass disease — Owings owns a career mark of 32-33 with a 4.86 ERA over the course of six seasons, including 9 2/3 innings pitched this year. Rather, the Padres had just moved Owings to the 60-day disabled list, and the 29-year-old did not feel close to returning.
Of course, it also doesn't help that, Owings has always been known as one of baseball's best-hitting pitchers, posting an .813 OPS in 205 career at-bats, including nine home runs and 35 RBIs.
"It’s a new adventure, a new challenge," said Owings. "I’m excited."
Former Cardinals starting pitcher Ankiel made the pitcher-to-hitter conversion famous in 2005 and 2006, when he became a full-time outfielder after a period of complete loss of control as a pitcher — a phenomenon named for former Pirates starting pitcher Blass — and elbow problems years later. However, he's not the only player in recent years to play both roles, as former Cubs and Brewers player Brooks Kieschnick did both throughout his career — and in 2003 became the only player to hit home runs as a pitcher, outfielder and designated hitter all in the same season.
Now Owings will try to follow in their footsteps.
Photo via Facebook/Micah Owings