The Texas Rangers’ spring-training workouts bore a distinct Seattle Seahawks vibe in the Arizona desert Monday when Russell Wilson, the Super Bowl-winning quarterback, fulfilled his other contractual obligation and showed up to work out with the team.
The scene was more media event than baseball game, though, because Wilson wasn’t going to play against the Cleveland Indians, but that didn’t deter the Seahawks’ “12th man” fans. They cheered, chanted and held up a sign that read “Sorry Rangers’ Fans, We’re Here For Wilson” as he fielded grounders and went through other workouts in the Rangers’ most exciting workout since the arrival of Yu Darvish in 2012.
“The 12th man fans were unbelievable today,” Wilson told reporters afterward. “They’re unbelievable every day. They’re everywhere. They find a way to make something happen, so just the Seattle Seahawks fans, the 12th man fans, are out in the outfield, they’re on third-base line, first-base line, chanting ‘Seahawks’ the whole way. Hopefully the Dallas fans didn’t get too mad. It really is a special thing we have in Seattle and it was great.”
Wilson isn’t likely to play the game of baseball seriously, though … or is he?
“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.”
Wilson, who was drafted by the Rangers last December, was never going to do more with the team this month than do fielding, watch the Cactus League game against Cleveland, give players a pep talk and sign autographs for fans. Still, he took the job seriously even if he didn’t take batting practice. He arrived by 7 a.m. and, after having breakfast and putting on a baseball uniform for the first time since 2011, he headed for infield instruction from Manager Ron Washington on the back fields in Surprise Stadium. He spoke to the team’s minor-leaguers and hung out with veterans like Adrian Beltre, Prince Fielder and Elvis Andrus.
“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,” Wilson said. “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.”
Wilson, who was drafted by the Colorado Rockies in 2010, was peppered with random questions, like whether it’s tougher to hit (a curveball) or to be hit (by a 350-pound lineman.) His answer was the diplomatic one, given his locale. “Hitting the curveball,” Wilson, who hit .229 with five homers and 26 RBI in Class A baseball in 2010 and ’11, said. “Man, the ball is so small.”
After speaking with reporters, Wilson headed back to Seattle. Although he said he plans to frame his Rangers jersey, his mind is on football, not on being a two-sport pro.
“My goal is to, obviously, win multiple Super Bowls there,” Wilson said. “We won the first one. Now the goal is to win the second one and to play there for a very, very long time. I initially started off, when I came to the National Football League, I was 23 years old and I said I wanted to play until I was 35. That’s 12 years. Now I’ve bumped it up to 20.”