Take Oakland A's infielder Wes Timmons, a career-minor leaguer who is two games away from playing in his 1,000th career game without a single appearance in the big leagues. This March, he was as close as he's ever been to reaching the bright lights of the majors.
Early in the spring, Timmons became a part of the discussion to replace Oakland third baseman Scott Sizemore, who suffered a season-ending knee injury during the first day of team workouts. Timmons' chances at becoming the A's third basemen dimmed quickly with former catcher Josh Donaldson getting the edge with his athleticism and power potential. Eric Sogard was deemed the backup, mostly because of his versatility to play all over the infield after having spent some time with the big club last year.
For many players, missing out on the opportunity to play in the major leagues after 10 good years in the minors would be a bitter thing to stomach. But the 33-year-old's sources of true happiness lie outside the game, making his situation in baseball all the easier to handle.
"My wife and kids are by far highest on this earthly totem pole," Timmons said. "It's just a great joy when you go 0-for-4, make an error or whatever it is and you walk through those doors and you got two daughters and wife that are just happy you're still dad."
During the offseason, Timmons and his wife Randi share the same profession as grade school teachers. His daughter Kallyn, a six-year-old kindergartener, and three-year-old daughter Irelyn spend the spring months with their mother in Jacksonville, Fla. When summer vacation hits, the family joins Timmons wherever he may be playing, whether it be Richmond, Virginia, or Midland, Texas.
"You can look at my numbers just about every single year. My best months are usually June and July. You can call it warm weather, pitchers getting tired or whatever you want. But I really feel like it's because my family's here," he said.
Prior to joining Oakland's organization in 2011 as a free agent, Timmons spent nine years playing third base in the Atlanta Braves organization. Unfortunately for him, the club had a future Hall of Famer at his position, making odds he reached the majors nearly insurmountable.
When he joined the A's, he went on to have the best year of his career between Double-A Midland and Triple-A Sacramento, and he hit .341 while setting career-highs in virtually every statistical category. To many it would be an injustice to not get a more serious look at replacing Sizemore.
"Three or four years ago, I would probably say ‘yeah.' But I totally believe that my God has a plan for me," Timmons said.
"If it's not to get to the big leagues, then it's not. I'm not a numbers guy. I don't know what the guys in the front office are looking for. If I'm here in Sacramento to start the season, I'm going to do whatever I can to help this team win here."
The biggest reason Timmons hasn't cracked a big league roster is because of his lack of power at the power-heavy position. He's hit 46 home runs in his 10 minor league seasons and set his career-high mark with eight in 2011.
But the A's rewarded his hard work this spring by bringing him along on their season-opening trip to Japan. Although he was inactive, he still considered the trip "a blessing," because he had his wife there to accompany him.
Timmons will likely the start the regular season in Sacramento and get most of his playing time at second base. Given the fragile situation with the A's at third and A's second baseman Jemile Weeks' injury history, Timmons could be the one the team calls upon should it need an infielder.
"I know because I got 10 years in the minor leagues, the right answer is ‘it would mean the world to me,'" Timmons said.
"The reality of the situation is, it would be great. Don't get me wrong. Since you do play this game to make it to the big leagues. But there are way more important things in my life than getting to the big leagues. With that said, it would be a great honor. But if it doesn't happen, it's not going to be the end of the world, either."