Atlanta Braves

Ankiel says he drank vodka before starts to tame anxiety

Rick Ankiel says he drank vodka before his first two starts in 2001 to quell anxiety after throwing five wild pitches in one inning during the previous season's playoffs.

Ankiel detailed his experience during an interview with 590 The Fan on Monday.

Ankiel had a promising rookie season as a 20-year-old with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2000, but he lost his control in the postseason. He pitched the first game of an NL Division Series against Atlanta and became the first major leaguer with five wild pitches in one inning.

He said he was "scared to death" before his first start the next season against Randy Johnson and the Arizona Diamondbacks and turned to...

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