Some might look at Chris Cody's recent decision to leave the York Revolution to pitch in Taiwan as if he's signaling the end of his dream of reaching the major leagues.
Cody, though, isn't sure if it is or not.
"Maybe. Maybe not," Cody said. "I wish I could give you..."
And then the second-longest tenured pitcher in Revs' history paused and took a collective breath.
"It's in my mind that it might be the point of no return. I don't know what else I could do. Over the last year and a half I don't know what else I gotta do to prove to these (big league) organizations that I can compete and get people out."
Cody, 30, has yet to reach the majors in his nine-year pro career. He's put up good numbers at every other level he's been to, even posting a 4.19 ERA in 26 games (19 starts) in his lone season at the triple-A level in 2009 with the Brewers' Nashville affiliate.
An eighth-round draft pick of the Detroit Tigers in 2006, Cody last played affiliated minor league ball in 2011, when he first came to York and got picked up off the Revs' roster and went to the Braves' double-A club, putting up a 3.46 ERA there in six starts.
The New York native hasn't been back to affiliated ball since. It's not for a lack of performance, though. Known for being a slow-throwing lefty who relies on a mix of off-speed pitches to trouble opposing batters, Cody became York's ace last season with a 15-9 record and 3.12 ERA in 28 starts. The Manhattan College product then pitched in the Dominican Republic over the winter, with the assumption being if he did well there he'd likely get an affiliated contract somewhere. But no offers ever came despite a 3.18 ERA in nine starts in the Dominican Republic.
It's not common for players to get picked up by big league clubs out of the four-team league in Taiwan, where Atlantic League players such as Cody will go partly for the life experience of being overseas, but mostly for the money. Cody said he'll make seven times as much for the Brother Elephants in Taiwan than he does for York.
So, in a way, players opting for Taiwan are saying they're done with the goal of trying to get to the majors. It's a decision Cody, who will pitch in Taiwan for the first time in his career, is comfortable with.
"If that is what it means, I can't be part of a (big league) organization anymore, so be it," Cody said.
The regular season in Taiwan finishes up at the end of August. So there's a chance Cody could return to York for the final few weeks of the season in September, something the veteran left-hander said he'll do if the Elephants aren't in the playoffs.
For now, he leaves the Revs after going 5-4 with a 3.93 ERA in 12 starts this season, striking out 50 and walking 19 in 68.2 innings pitched. He pitched for York one last time Tuesday, giving up one earned run in seven innings with nine strikeouts and no walks.
Cody said he's scheduled to fly out of John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York on Friday, making the roughly 16-hour flight straight to Taiwan, where he'll pitch once a week.
"I think about what my dad would say if he were here," Cody said. "He would want me to keep playing as long I could."
Cody's father, Joseph, was relatively healthy when he was diagnosed with stage four gastric cancer in September of 2010 and died 24 days later at the age of 63. He had been retired from the New York City Fire Department for 11 years when he died Oct. 11, 2010.
"He would tell me 'you have the rest of your life to get a real job,'" Cody said. "All this craziness of playing in these countries ... going to the Dominican and taking that risk of being out of my comfort zone has helped me in this decision to go over to Taiwan. All that together has given me the confidence that it's a good decision."
— Reach John Walk at firstname.lastname@example.org.