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Ex-pitcher Micah Owings channels Rick Ankiel, gets signed as a hitter

(Ankiel and Owings, AP/BLS illustration)

Praise Jesus and Rick Ankiel, there IS life for a major league pitcher after injuries and control issues make his career go kaput.

[Also: Can Upton brothers' bats hide Atlanta's pitching shortcomings?]

The Washington Nationals signed Micah Owings today ... as a first baseman. Partially because Owings always showed that he was pretty good with a bat and partially because they needed another 6-foot-5 guy to fill Michael Morse's place in the team picture.

OK, that last part is just a hunch.

Owings, you might recall, played six seasons with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Cincinnati Reds and San Diego Padres. With the latter, in 2012, he only pitched nine innings and earned an 0-2 record before going to the disabled list with a right forearm strain.

It was then Owings picked hitting as his new hobby, having previously won a Silver Slugger award in 2007. He hit four homers and drove in 15 runs in 60 at-bats that year, posting a .333/.349/.683 slash line. The D-Backs even considered playing him at first when he wasn't pitching.

Of course, Owings won't be able to escape the Ankiel comparisons. The ex-St. Louis Cardinals pitcher transformed into a power-hitting outfielder in 2007, and eventually launched 25 homers in 2008. His arm also proved highlight-reel prone.

[Also: Angels have no excuses for a quiet October with Pujols and Hamilton in lineup]

Owings, 30, only got a minor league deal from the Nats (with an invitation to major league camp), but if the stories of Ankiel and reigning Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey have taught us anything, it's that pitchers can re-invent themselves.

So now the obvious question: Can Chris Carpenter swing a bat?

Pitchers and catchers report any moment.
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