Adam Thomas doesn't have any regrets for stepping away from the baseball diamond for three years.
Yet, the York Revolution reliever still finds himself wondering "What if?"
"Twenty years down the road that's a question I'm always going to ask myself. 'What if I would have kept going? What if I wouldn't have done something else?'" Thomas said Tuesday following spring training practice at Sovereign Bank Stadium.
Back in 2007, the right-hander was dominant for the Revolution, putting together a 1.50 ERA with five saves in 11 games before being picked up by the Oakland Athletics. Later that year he made it to Class AA Midland, but struggled there with an 8.31 ERA in 12 appearances.
He had the option of returning
A non-profit organization based in Dallas, Texas, Heroes Foundation provides opportunities for children and teenagers to participate in baseball and basketball programs to prepare them for competition at the college level. Thomas had been working with Heroes Foundation in a small role since 2005, often giving baseball lessons to youngsters during the offseason. Now he had to weigh his options.
He had reached the Class AAA level as a Los Angeles Dodgers prospect in 2006 before coming to York in 2007. And he would be turning 29 in 2008. Maybe it was time to try something else. He couldn't pass up a full-time gig working with a foundation he enjoyed.
Returning to baseball: Unfortunately for Thomas and Heroes Foundation, a downturn in the economy in recent years dried up most of the non-profit's donations and it eventually changed hands. Thomas opted to leave the program in 2010 and return to the game he loves.
"I was still playing in a men's league in 2010 and I was throwing in the mid-90s," he said.
Thanks to some connections, Thomas scored a minor league spring training tryout with the New York Mets in 2011, but was released in March. With most Atlantic League rosters full at the time, he eventually found a spot on the league's all-travel Road Warriors. In his first full season back on the mound, he ended up posting a 1.73 ERA with 17 saves in 56 games.
Coming back to York: A couple months removed from a minor league spring training tryout with the San Francisco Giants, Thomas practiced with York for the first time on Tuesday. With the Revs scrimmaging the Sugar Land Skeeters, the 6-foot, 4-inch, 213-pounder took to the mound in the eighth inning and retired the side on just nine pitches, striking out the final batter.
Revs manager Andy Etchebarren said afterwards that Thomas will be the team's set-up man in the eighth inning to start the season.
Thomas, 32, still has the stuff big league clubs look for. Would he be in the big show right now had he not retired in 2008? Maybe, maybe not. Either way, he has the opportunity to answer that question now that he's back in baseball.
Spring training notes: York defeated Sugar Land on Tuesday, 8-3, in a nine-inning exhibition game. ... Etchebarren said his starting lineup to begin the season will be outfielder Scott Grimes, outfielder Stephen Douglas, infielder Ramon Castro, infielder Chris Nowak, outfielder Michael Hernandez, infielder Andres Perez, outfielder James Shanks, infielder Danny Gonzalez and either Salvador Paniagua or Travis Scott at catcher.
-- Reach John Walk at 505-5406 or jwalk@york dispatch.com or follow on Twitter @JohnKWalk.