INDIANAPOLIS Pete Carroll’s all for Russell Wilson playing baseball. For a limited time and scope only, of course.
In fact, the Seahawks’ coach wants his indispensable franchise quarterback to swing away. A little more to the opposite field.
Wednesday, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said he was open to Wilson, in New York’s spring-training camp this week for his almost-annual baseball cameo, getting at-bats in a game--and that he hoped Carroll would be OK with that.
"I respect the hell out of Pete Carroll, so I'd look forward to hearing from him,” Cashman told Yankees media members in Tampa, Fla.
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Thursday, Carroll was asked whether he was OK with Wilson getting at-bats in Yankees exhibition games.
"He's not doing a great job of going with pitches away from him. We are hoping he will start putting the ball into right field a little bit more, you know,” Carroll said here at the NFL scouting combine.
Yes, his tongue was firmly embedded in his cheek.
“We want him to go with the pitch. Aside from that, the curveball is still giving him a problem, like it always did you know, back in the day,” Carroll said, hiding a smirk. “So we will see what happens."
We know what will happen. Rest assured, the Seahawks only let Wilson go on these spring baseball flings on the premise he will not be standing in the batter’s box as a potentially recipient of a 95-mph major-league fastball to a $87.6 million body part in a “game.”
The home run Wilson hit off a “pitcher” this week in batting practice was on a pitch thrown by a white-haired Yankees coach, the spring-training equivalent of you and me throwing to our kids in the backyard.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone has already said this week that Wilson will not appear in any spring-training games but will sit on the Yankees’ bench during them in uniform. He’s wearing number 73 in Tampa, Fla., for New York. That’s a combination of Wilson’s former baseball number when he was a college and low-minor-leagues middle infielder plus his Seahawks jersey number 3.
Wilson didn’t appear in any exhibition games in the multiple spring trainings he did similar cameos taking grounders and batting practice for the Texas Rangers. Last month the Rangers ceremoniously “traded” the baseball Wilson to the Yankees for his spring-training appearances to continue in pinstripes, with the world’s most famous baseball brand.
Wilson has two years left on his Seahawks contract. He and his football team are coming off their first season without making the playoffs in six years. Seattle has changed its offensive coordinator since the end of last season, firing Darrell Bevell, the only play caller Wilson has ever had in the NFL, and replacing him with Brian Schottenheimer. There is much learning to be done between new coordinator and his QB this offseason, beginning when players report for the start of Seahawks’ offseason workouts April 16.
So, seriously, what does Carroll think of his most important player moonlighting in another sport during what the coach on Thursday said he sees as a vital, “altering” offseason for the Seahawks?
He’s all for it. Better than Wilson being in, say, Paris right now.
"I think it's awesome, yeah,” Carroll said. “He's going to be working out doing something, anyway. He reports in impeccable condition. He's extraordinarily dedicated to doing everything right. I don't think at this stage right now in the program here, there's a lot of free time that guys have to do their things that they have to do. Some guys are maybe traveling all over the world. He is playing ball. He is playing baseball.
“I don't think there is anything wrong with that, at all. The focus that it takes to play at this level--whether it's baseball, basketball or football--to compete at that level, the mentality that you have to be at, I think it's only enriching. So I have no problem with that."