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Mets, free-agent OF Rick Ankiel reach a deal

The Mets have reached a deal with free agent outfielder Rick Ankiel.

Ankiel, the pitcher-turned-outfielder, was hitting .194 but had five home runs in 25 games before the Astros released him. Ankiel, 33, could provide pop at a time the Mets are looking for a boost. He was on the way to St. Louis to join the Mets during a series vs. the Cardinals, one of Ankiel's former teams.

The Mets' outfield has been an issue since before the season. GM Sandy Alderson answered "What outfield?'' in answer to a question about the outfield in winter. Lucas Duda, Jordany Valdespin, Marlon Byrd, Colin Cowgill and Mike Baxter have manned the outfield for the Mets.

Mets people are generally concerned about an offense that's been struggling lately. Their .691 OPS is 24th best in baseball, but their .610 mark over the past week is 29th best. They scored just 14 runs on their recent six-game homestand.

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