One day shy of eight weeks ago, Russell Wilson threw an interception at the one-yard line that gave the New England Patriots a fourth Super Bowl title and sent the Seattle Seahawks home a yard shy of winning their second in as many years. On Saturday, Wilson was just 13 miles up the road from where he threw that infamous interception, but instead of dropping back into a pocket, he was turning double plays and even hit himself a home run in batting practice with the Texas Rangers.
Before being selected in the third round in the 2012 NFL draft, Wilson was a fourth-round pick in the MLB draft by the Colorado Rockies. He spent part of two seasons in the Rockies organization where he hit .229 with five home runs and 19 steals in 93 professional games. Now a member of the Texas Rangers organization after being selected in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 draft ahead of the 2014 season, this is the second consecutive year Wilson has worked out with the Rangers for a day during Spring Training.
After taking ground balls at second base with Rougned Odor and turning two with his double play partner for the day, Elvis Andrus, Wilson went to the batting cage to get some swings in. A mass of fans in Seahawk green and an awkwardly large number of Mariners jerseys (considering this was division rival Texas Rangers camp) followed Wilson as he jogged from the field to the batting cage, and back to the field again.
Wilson finally got to take live hacks on the main practice field, and when his turn came he showed he was comfortable with the bat in his hand — in fact, too comfortable. In a round where each batter was taking about five swings, Wilson was a good 10 swings or so into his round before Prince Fielder finally hollered, “How many swings do we get in this round?” Wilson stepped out of the cage with a big smile on his face and simply said, “I guess I lost track.”
After all the drills on the field, Wilson took questions for the media for about 20 minutes answering questions ranging from “Do the Rangers have a QB controversy?” (Tony Romo was in camp this spring too) to questions about the Seahawks acquisition of Jimmy Graham and if he was as good at baseball as he is at football, would he give baseball another run (he jokingly replied “I think I am better at baseball”). He also gave some advice to the Rangers’ players, telling them, “If you are truly prepared, you won’t ever have to be nervous.”
There are a handful of players on the current Rangers roster that were on the 2011 team that came within just a single out of a World Series title, and I asked if there was anything he could learn from them and apply to his game given he just recently came a yard shy of winning a Super Bowl. He replied saying, “For sure, the first thing is you can’t let those moments pass you by, you have to cherish those moments. To be one pitch away like those guys, it’s a tough experience. You learn from it, you grow from it and when you are there again you know how to be successful in that situation, just like being at the one yard line.” He showed surprising honesty and humility when he added, “I have been fortunate enough to win a Super Bowl, I have also been fortunate enough in a way to have been in two Super Bowls in a row and to lose one at the one-yard line because I know I can use it again for something later.”