Thomas Hopes he's Found A Home

Certainly it's not the promised land. No, that would be the big leagues like it is for every professional baseball player. But you can't blame Adam Thomas for feeling like a scorched traveler who's found a well after wandering in the Sahara for a long time. It may not have lush greenery but it's a lot better than the parched landscape out there.

Thomas is a righthanded pitcher who's been taken on by the Dodgers after spending the last three seasons in independent ball. Did he ever wander for in those three years he was in six leagues. "I've been in every independent league but the Frontier," he quipped. "Somehow I missed that one."

His adventures in the game began more prosaically for he was drafted by the Angels in 1999 out of high school in Miami, although almost as an afterthought, being chosen in the 47th round. So, he began his journey in junior college (St. Petersburg J.C.), then signed with the Angels in 2000.

Three years and five teams later, he was released - a combined 6-20 record with a 6.02 earned run average will get you that. Not ready to give the game up, though, he started his odyssey through indy ball. Fittingly it was with a traveling team, Pennsylvania in the Atlantic League that didn't even have permanent home base.

Through the next seasons came Amarillo in the Central, Bangor, Me. in the Northeast, Winnepeg in the Northern and Long Beach in the Golden League. Why, there was even a short stint in Taiwan thrown in. He could wake up every morning, wonder what town he was in, then run out into the street to see what language they were speaking.

Along the way, though, he was learning more than a little about pitching. So, this spring, his agent lined up a tryout with the Dodgers. He came, he impressed and he was signed. What's more, he earned a spot in the Vero Beach bullpen.

Showing a fast ball in the low 90's ("I hope to get up around 94-95 before the season's over"), plus an effective breaking pitch that's more of a slurve, he became a middle reliever who could come in and pound the strike zone. He then gained a spot start and won that.

He compiled a 2-2, 3.08 record with Vero, good enough to earn a promotion to Jacksonville. So, he's packed his bag once again but this time the journey is upward rather than laterally. And he's still in Florida and that's pleasing to him, too. "Hey, I'm from Miami. This is like pitching at home."

He' ll be 27 next week, a 6-4, 190-pounder who is working hard to make the most of what could be his best opportunity. After all, for awhile there, it looked like he might have to work for National Geographic.