So, Seahawks fans, what goes through your minds when you see pictures of Russell Wilson in a Texas Rangers uniform, fielding grounders and taking batting practice?
Cringe just a bit, don’t you?
Maybe you think about bad-hop Tony Kubek taking one in the throat, or maybe about some BP pitcher losing a fastball.
Bet John Schneider and Pete Carroll sweat this out, too.
For the second year, Ranger Russell spent some spring-training time Saturday with the Rangers, the team that took him off Colorado’s roster in the Rule 5 draft in December 2013.
Wilson loves the game and had enough promise to be drafted and play in the minors for two seasons (2010 with the Tri-City Dust Devils).
And his time with the Rangers is mostly ceremonial, a chance for him to hang out in the clubhouse and be an influence on the club. That’s the story, at least.
The Seahawks’ front office seems pretty open-minded about their players’ self-expression and independence.
Wilson is so diligent and dedicated to improving as a quarterback and team leader that I can’t imagine anybody in the organization really wants to go up and tell him he can’t do something he wants to do.
After all, the last coach to suggest he give up baseball was the coach at North Carolina State, and Wilson ended up transferring to Wisconsin.
So he takes his baseball seriously. But that was at the time he still considered it a professional option, a hedge against the widespread belief that, at 5-foot-11, he was too short to make it as a quarterback in the NFL.
But, after two Super Bowl appearances, he’s on the threshold of a massive contract, the kind of commitment that will keep him the face and most valuable asset of this franchise for years.
And maybe that makes it time everybody decides that days on the baseball diamond simply aren’t worth the slight risk of something happening.
Wilson probably has more injury peril in the daily walk-through during the season than in the few hours fooling around with the Rangers.
Still, screwy stuff happens.
In 1994, the Seahawks forked over big bucks to pick up Pro Bowl cornerback Nate Odomes from Buffalo. Odomes led the NFL in interceptions in 1993 and he was a huge get for Seattle.
And in an offseason charity basketball game, he tore up his knee. He spent two seasons rehabbing with Seattle and never played a down.
Who gets hurt in a charity basketball game?
But it absolutely hurt the Seahawks, and it is nothing like the damage to a franchise of a quarterback going down.
Finding the franchise quarterback is the one factor that makes or breaks teams, that sets them up for a decade or more. Very obviously, Wilson is that guy.
He is so durable that he’s never missed a game, never missed a practice, and never even been listed on an injury report. But he has been banged up. He has taken a lot of hits.
Wilson soon will be locked up for a long time. His contract extension will get done and it will be good for both sides.
Seattle’s money people have been computer modeling the roster and salaries to accommodate an appropriate contract for Wilson for probably two years.
It will be a big-time contract. The Seahawks will give him what he’s worth, for all he means to this team.
And it will be enough that he shouldn’t ever have to think about baseball as an option again.