Below is a feature story on York Revolution left-fielder James Shanks and his quest to return to form after a tough 2012 season. Before we get to that, though, just wanted to point out my column in Monday’s paper about the rally plantain coming to York. Click here to read the column, which also includes a three-minute video compiled by York Dispatch photo editor Randy Flaum.
Also, here’s a blog post on newly acquired outfielder Cody Johnson, who the Revs signed on Monday.
Finally, check out the game story from York’s come-from-behind 4-3 over Lancaster on Monday night.It mainly focuses on Lancaster starter Will Savage, an Oklahoma City native who made the start just moments after finding out his wife and their 1-year-old son were safe from the tornado that took the lives of more than 50 people on Monday evening. It also includes quotes from Revs’ first baseman Brian Burgamy, who has family in Lawton, Okla., located about 90 minutes southwest of Moore, Okla., where the tornado hit.
The Revs won the four-game series over Lancaster, 3-to-1 and improved to 17-14 overall with Sugar Land coming to town for a three-game set that starts Tuesday. The Skeeters (25-5) own the league’s best record. On Tuesday, York right-hander Corey Thurman (2-4, 3.72 ERA) will face right-hander Scott Elarton (2-2, 3.75).
He had made similar plays several times before in his previous 14 years as a pro baseball player. The only difference this time is that it came after the toughest 12 months of his career.
So when a fly ball came rocketing his way in left at Sovereign Bank Stadium last Saturday night, James Shanks wanted to do more than just make the out. The York Revolution left-fielder needed to prove to himself that he could still play all out and make the highlight catches.
And his confidence was admittedly boosted when Shanks made a diving grab to save a run mid-way through last Saturday’s game against Lancaster.
“That lets me know what I was doing and working on, I was doing the right thing,” Shanks said Sunday night in the York clubhouse following a 3-1 loss to the Barnstormers.
The play was exemplary of how Shanks wants to play. But in order to do so, he spent the past off-season focusing on getting his body in shape.
“It was really all about me making the decision to come back and do what I can do. I wanted to be healthy enough to play,” he said. “I didn’t want to just go through the motions. I wanted to actually play the way I’m capable of playing.”
Shanks, 34, was held back from making those type of plays last season, mainly because tendonitis in his aging knees limited his playing time. It also had a negative impact on his performance at the plate. He batted just .249 in 77 games before York released him in early August. A former prospect of the Kansas City Royals and Miami Marlins, Shanks finished out the 2012 season with Southern Maryland. But he didn’t fair much better with the Blue Crabs, posting a .225 average in 25 games.
The numbers were a drop-off from those he put up with York’s Atlantic League championship clubs of 2010 and 2011. The 6-foot, right-handed hitting Shanks held a .314 average in 2011 and .325 average in 2010.
Comeback: Shanks, who signed back with York on May 11, isn’t sure how much longer he wants to keep playing. At the very least, he wants to prove he still has what it takes to succeed at the sport that has consumed much of his life.
To get back into form, Shanks spent this past off-season in his native Georgia dropping about 20 pounds.
“Basically just working on my knees and stuff. That’s what was the problem as far as having tendonitis (last season),” Shanks said. “I worked out and did a lot of work with my knees. Just regular stuff like sprints and long-distance running. I didn’t want to do any heavy weights because that’s basically what made my knees flare up.”
Record breaker?: Through Sunday, Shanks is batting just .240 but does have two multi-hit games, five RBIs and two doubles. He also hit a homer in his third game of the year at Long Island on May 15.
He won’t need to do much more to become a record holder in several York Revolution categories. He’s just one hit shy of tying Scott Grimes for the club record in hits (374), seven short of tying Grimes in extra-base hits (128), two shy of tying Grimes in triples (13) and 19 short of tying Ramon Castro for RBIs (214). He’s already the club leader in bunt hits (31).
No matter the records, Shanks is just glad to get another shot with York.
“It means a lot,“ he said. “It feels like you’re starting over again.”Read More