He’s a highly coveted player, and his coaches believe he has the right stuff to make it in the major leagues. Unfortunately, his baseball dreams will have to wait: Russell Wilson is too busy helping the Seattle Seahawks defend their recent Super Bowl victory.
Wilson, a former minor-leaguer in the Colorado Rockies organization, was selected by the Texas Rangers in the Rule 5 draft last fall and, as promised, he paid a visit to the Texas Rangers spring training in Surprise, AZ on Monday. Like everyone from Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll to newly christened Late Night host Seth Meyers, the Rangers came away impressed by the 25-year-old.
"If he continued to work and get the repetition, he could probably be as good as he is a football player," Rangers manager Ron Washington said, according to ESPN. Wilson, a former second baseman, worked with Washington during an individual infield session and afterward, the manager was effusive in his praise.
"He surprised me for not being out on the baseball field for a while," Washington said. "I might have burned his legs up a little bit, but he made it through all the drills and did a fantastic job. He's got tremendous aptitude. That's why he is who he is. You give him something, and he knows how to apply it."
Now that he’s got a bit of MLB experience under his belt, is Wilson planning on becoming a two-sport athlete like Deion Sanders or Bo Jackson?
"You never say never," Wilson said. "I've always had the dream of playing two sports. If somehow it was a miracle that it could work out, I'd consider it. At the same time, my focus is winning the championship with the Seattle Seahawks and hope to be playing for a long time."
“Miracle” is the operative word there. Although the incredibly focused and driven Wilson is no doubt sincere in his wish to play both football and baseball, the pressure of being a franchise quarterback makes that dream all but impossible. In fact, much to the chagrin of the Seahawks fans who showed up, Wilson wasn’t even allowed in the batter’s box for fear that he might be injured on a pitch.
Still, Wilson’s trip to spring training wasn’t about him working out as a prospect. Wilson got the chance to have some fun playing a sport he clearly still loves while the Rangers were treated to an appearance by a Super Bowl-winning quarterback who could speak to their youngest players about how to succeed as a professional athlete.
“Just talk to them about the preparation — the idea that ‘the separation’s in the preparation,’” Wilson said. “Talk to them about how the mental focus is and how you get ready for a season that’s such a big season and everybody has such great, high expectations and all those things. And just talk about my learning experience being so young and coming up and starting right away. ”
Wilson said he too took away some lessons that he can apply toward his football career.
"More than anything, just the experience of being around a championship organization and a team that has done a lot of great things -- how poised these guys are, how relaxed they are, how much fun they have coming to work every day. It's the same thing we try to do with the Seattle Seahawks. It really is. It's the same language that they use in terms of competing and playing great ball all the time and having the right mindset. It transfers over. For me, playing the quarterback position, you have to have amnesia. You have to be able to stay focused one pitch at a time and all those things. So for me, coming back out here feels right at home."
Seahawks fans are no doubt hoping Wilson doesn't start feeling too at home on the baseball diamond; the soon-to-be third-year QB still has more championships to win.
Make that NFL championships.