In his second major league season as an outfielder, the once highly prized pitching prospect was hitting .285 with seven home runs through May 19. Ankiel, who battled severe control problems before undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2003, hit .285 in 47 games late last season, his first back in the bigs since giving up pitching.
2 of 13Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
The 2005 Tony Conigliaro award winner continues to impress after having his career interrupted in '04 by blood clots in both lung. The right-hander used his passion for baseball to help him come back, which he did as the Opening Day starter for the Rockies in 2007. This season he's 6-2 with a 2.82 ERA.
3 of 13AP
Using baseball as a form of therapy, Doug Davis overcame the grief of being diagnosed with thyroid cancer by pitching regularly right up until his surgery in mid-April. Now back with the Baby `Backs, the 6-foot-4 lefty has made two apperaances this season but is preparing to rejoin the rotation this week.
4 of 13Douglas Jones/Icon SMI
His promising career was nearly derailed by a bout with social anxiety disorder in 2006. He rejoined the Royals in 2007 and is 5-1 with a 2.18 ERA through May 19.
5 of 13John Biever/SI
The first overall pick in the 1999 MLB Draft, Hamilton battled numerous drug addictions and league suspensions before finally being reinstated by MLB in 2006. He had a breakout season with the Reds in 2007 and is hitting .319 with 11 HRs and 50 RBI with the Rangers in 2008.
6 of 13G. Newman Lowrance/Getty Images
The one-time second baseman who played Triple-A for the Cleveland and who spent the last five years managing in Japan has finally made it to the majors as a manager. He's been given the overwhelming task of trying to improve the Royals, who won just 69 games last year.
7 of 13Jim Rogash/Getty Images
When Miguel Cabrera was traded to the Tigers in the offseason, incumbent third baseman Brandon Inge didn't take it too well. In spring training he requested a trade that has yet to happen, which may turn out to be a good thing for all involved. Inge has filled in at four different positions: catcher, third base, left field and center field.
8 of 13Al Tielemans/SI
Dubbed by Hall of Famer and Nationals broadcaster Don Sutton as "the picture of perseverance," Nick Johnson has returned to the Nationals' starting lineup for Opening Day after sitting out nearly 17 months due to a broken leg. After a hot start, Johsnon has cooled off and is back on the disabled list again with a wrist injury.
9 of 13Heinz Kluetmeier/SI
After Kapler posted a sub-par 58-81 record as manager of the Greenville Drive Class A team last season, he realized he missed playing the game too much. His longshot comeback bid has landed him a part-time role with the Brewers, where he was hitting .278 through May 19.
10 of 13AP
He survived a rare form of blood cancer and returned to help the Red Sox capture last year's World Series by winning the clinching Game 4. As part of the Red Sox youth movement on the mound, Lester, a second year starter, no-hit the Royals on May 19 and is 3-2 with a 3.41 ERA.
11 of 13Al Tielemans/SI
He overcame testicular cancer in 1999 and returned to the big leagues for what has been a long and successful career, including being named World Series MVP last season. Though he spent time on the disabled list with an injured thumb, Lowell is hitting .319 so far this season.
12 of 13J. Meric/Getty Images
Fresh off a two-year stint throwing batting practice to a bunch of kids in the Orangecrest Pony League, former Angels closer Troy Percival, at 38 years young, recorded his first save since July 2005 in his 2008 debut as the Rays' closer, and had 12 saves through May 19.
13 of 13AP
The surprising Orioles have gotten off to a solid start, largely due to the play of outfielder Luke Scott, who's among the team leaders in batting average, slugging percentage, and doubles.
You May Like
Sign Up for our Newsletter
Don't get stuck on the sidelines! Sign up to get exclusives, daily highlights, analysis and more—delivered right to your inbox!