Wes Timmons was swinging for the fences Monday.
It was the last day of the regular season, and the River Cats already had clinched their division, making the outcome of the game irrelevant.
Timmons, pinch-hitting in the seventh inning, struck out. He batted again in the ninth and flied out.
He isn't a home run hitter, and never was. But he told his teammates he would try, "just to kind of walk off on that."
Timmons, 34, who has played in 1,047 minor league games and none in the big leagues, said he's ready to give up playing pro baseball after this season, which will last as long as the River Cats are in the hunt for a Triple-A title.
The River Cats open the Pacific Coast League playoffs tonight at home against Reno at 7:05.
"I told my wife 10 years ago that when the door to get to the (major leagues) closed that I'd hang it up," Timmons said by phone Monday from Salt Lake City. "I didn't want to be that guy to play the game too long. Mentally, physically, I think I've still got it. But, man, when you don't start every day in Triple A, that's a pretty good wake-up call for where you are in your career.
"I've got a wife, I've got two little girls, a 3-year-old and a 6-year-old, that have been waiting a long time for me to be a full-time father. And I owe it to them, man.
"I chased this dream for long enough, and for whatever reason I wasn't good enough to get there. And I'm OK with that."
That door still seemed open in the spring, maybe more than ever. Timmons hit a combined .341 last year in Double A and Triple A, and he played well enough in spring training that the A's, who lost third baseman Scott Sizemore to an injury early in camp, brought the infielder on their season-opening trip to Japan.
It was an "unforgettable" experience, Timmons said, but as a non-roster invitee to camp, he was not on the 25-man active roster for the two games. When the team returned to Oakland, Timmons was sent to Sacramento. He struggled in April, hitting .155, and he has played in only 32 games since.
But with his 11 seasons in baseball and friendly demeanor, Timmons remains a central figure in the clubhouse.
"Everyone respects Wes," outfielder Michael Taylor said. "He's one of those guys who's undervalued as a player because he's not a flashy tools guy. But he can play the game of baseball. He's in tune with the game, and as a player you recognize that."
Timmons recently began seeking out manager Darren Bush and the River Cats' staff on the finer points of coaching, which interests him as a possible next career move.
"I think he has the right mindset," Bush said. "It'll take time, and there's a lot of things that are different, but he's willing to learn and he's got a positive outlook."
Timmons, a career .280 hitter in the minors, is a versatile infielder with more walks (492) than strikeouts (300) who has not put up big power numbers while primarily playing a position third base where they are common.
Asked if it's surprising that Timmons has never been called up, Bush answered thoughtfully.
"More players don't make it than make it, so 'surprised,' that's a tough word to use in that situation," Bush said. "Do I believe that Wes is a quality player, a player with talent, a player that could compete at a major league level? Yes, I do."
Timmons, who reached Triple A in 2005 in the Atlanta Braves' system, has spent the majority of seven years one step from the top and often hundreds of miles from Jacksonville, Fla., where his family lives and where Timmons substitute teaches in the offseason at Chets Creek Elementary School.
"You could probably look back and try to make 15 to 20 excuses. But the reality of it is, either I wasn't good enough or I didn't work hard enough," Timmons said. "But I kind of like the idea of being able to play for 10 years. Not many can do it.
"Not many," he added with a chuckle, "do it without getting to the big leagues, that's for sure."
Already thinking like a manager, Timmons points out Reno is light on left-handed pitching, so playing matchups with a stacked River Cats lineup probably means few at-bats for him.
"But if my name's called come playoff time, it's going to be like any other game I've ever played in," Timmons said. "I'm going to do everything I can to help my team win."