Sometimes baseball doesn't work the way you expect it to. Just ask Chris Curley.
The 25-year-old infielder went from being undrafted out of college to being signed as a free agent to getting cut during Spring Training. From there he spent a season tearing up independent ball, contemplating retirement when the big league teams didn't call.
Now he's back living his dream, glad he didn't hang up his cleats and call it a day.
Curley slugged two homers and plated a career-high five runs in the Class A Advanced Winston-Salem Dash's 12-9 win over the visiting Potomac Nationals on Monday.
"I was raised to work hard, knowing whatever happens, happens. You always have to work hard, because you really don't know what is going to happen next," Curley said. "Hopefully I can keep playing well and do what I can to move through the system."
It was Curley's second multi-homer game in the Minors. He went yard twice for Class A Kannapolis in an 8-3 loss to Greensboro last July 16.
The shortstop smacked a two-run homer to right-center field off Matt Purke in the first inning and he added a three-run long ball off Purke with two outs in the fourth. It brought his total to 17 on the year, already a career high.
"There was a guy on third base and I was looking for something up in the zone to drive and get a sac fly, but I hit it well enough to get both of us home," Curley said of his first homer. "It was a fastball up and away and I hit it pretty well.
"The second was a line drive that just snuck out to left field. It was either a 2-2 or 3-2 fastball. I was looking fastball but ready to react to the curveball, that's all you can do. If you don't, you'll get beat."
Curley was one of seven different players to clear the fences Monday at BB&T Ballpark as the Dash bested the P-Nats at home for the 14th consecutive time.
Dash designated hitter Joe De Pinto added a two-run homer and first baseman Rangel Ravelo chipped in with a solo shot.
Cole Leonida, Mike Gilmartin, Kevin Keyes and Adrian Sanchez each went yard for the P-Nats. The combined eight homers set a ballpark record.
"They're just one of those teams where we have their number," Curley said. "We get on them pretty good. It's a lot of fun when everyone is hitting. They say hitting is contagious, and we were hitting well, one through nine."
Curley's journey through pro ball -- apparently unlike smashing a ball out of the Dash's home park -- has not been easy.
Undrafted out of Campbellsville where he was a career .386 hitter and Mid-South Conference Player of the Year, Curley got his shot to play pro ball when the Braves signed him as a non-drafted free agent about six weeks after the 2009 Draft.
"I was having a really good junior year when I got hit in the [left] hand by a fastball. Honestly, I expected to get drafted," Curley said. "That's what you work for.
"I went to play for the Thunder Border Bay Cats in Ontario, and I decided to go to an open tryout in Danville, Va. I did really well and the Braves signed me that same day."
The infielder struggled through his first two seasons in the Minors, however, hitting just .158 in 11 games that summer and .224 with three homers across three levels in 2010.
Despite a strong Minor League Spring Training with Triple-A Gwinnett in 2011, the Braves cut Curley, forcing him to return to Kentucky once more.
"They sent me to the Triple-A team and I knew I didn't belong there at that moment. I hit close to .500 and played second base every day, so it was tough to get released," he said.
Curley went back to his home state and latched on with the Florence Freedom, an Independent League team located about five minutes from his house. Even a strong showing there didn't help his chances of returning to the Minors, and he was ready to call it a day.
"I had a really good year with the Freedom and nobody showed any interest at all. You have to know when to quit and when to keep going. I was going to retire after that season, but a buddy talked me in to playing one more year," Curley said.
"Then one day in Chicago, my coach called me at 8 a.m. and I knew something had to be up for him to call me that early. He told me the White Sox had bought my contact and that they wanted to see me in two days."
On Monday, Bryan Blough (8-5) allowed five runs -- four earned -- on nine hits and four walks while striking out two batter over five innings in the win.
Potomac starter Purke (0-1) yielded nine runs on 11 hits and a walk while striking out three batters over 3 2/3 innings in his second Carolina League start.