SURPRISE, Ariz. — Russell Wilson doesn't get here until Monday, but vendors at Surprise Stadium already began hawking Texas Rangers jerseys and shirts adorned with the Seattle Seahawks quarterback's last name and number.
Sunday's White Sox-Rangers game at Surprise Stadium was relatively quiet, with plenty of empty seats and a typical laid-back atmosphere. Those around the park expect that to change Monday, even if Wilson won't play in the Rangers' Cactus League contest against Cleveland.
"That guy has seen it all, pretty much," White Sox minor leaguer Kevan Smith, who played quarterback at the University of Pittsburgh for three years, said. "He's been through every bit of adversity, he's seen everything you can on the big stage."
Wilson, a second baseman by trade, can take infield and participate in morning drills. His appearance isn't a complete gimmick — he was a fourth-round pick of the Rockies in 2010 and had a .356 on-base percentage with five home runs and 19 stolen bases in two seasons in Single-A.
But the most important aspect of Wilson's appearance with Texas is having him pass on some words of wisdom around the clubhouse and break the monotony of spring training. For a team that lost back-to-back World Series — including in heartbreaking fashion in 2011 — perhaps there's some broad-scope advice the Super Bowl-winning quarterback can give.
"I think it's kind of eye wash, to be honest," White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham said. "I think the guys that play football, they play football. I think it'd be cool to have him in there, but the guys that play baseball, that's the reason they do it because they chose to play baseball.
"… It's just kind of different worlds, but hey, whatever gets people motivated."