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The Rockies Speak On Russell Wilson Exploring Football

May 25, 2011

Just a day after I posted this piece on how the Rockies might force Russell Wilson's hand on choosing either football or baseball, the Asheville Citizen-Times ran this piece last night on the matter.

In it, Marc Gustafson of the Rockies made a rare public statement on Wilson's flirtations with football. As you can see, the Rockies don't seem any keener on the idea than they did at the beginning of the month:

“It's a significant portion [of his signing bonus] he would have to return,” said Marc Gustafson, the Rockies' senior director of player development.

Gustafson also said it would be difficult for Wilson, who is struggling offensively with the Tourists, to return to baseball if he played football this fall.

“It would be hard for him to come back to baseball because he would miss a lot of games and have had so much time away,” Gustafson said.

Wilson is hitting .216 in 38 games with Asheville with 53 strikeouts in 116 at-bats. In 230 at-bats as a pro, Wilson has struck out 89 times.

Wilson, who recently turned down an interview request because he said he wouldn't talk about football, informed the Rockies that he was visiting Auburn.

“He called (Monday night) and said a lot of (college football) teams were courting him,” Gustafson said. “He said he doesn't know what he wants to do, so right now, it's all speculation.”

“It's an interesting scenario,” Gustafson said. “He's a premium athlete who doesn't know what he wants to do. Until we know something different, we consider him to be a baseball player only.

“Would we be disappointed if he chose to play football? Yes, we would.”

That last quote is the most damning. "Disappointing" your employer is never a good idea if you can avoid it, because employees who disappoint their employers don't typically remain employees very long.

It's clear that Russell is very torn on this decision, but it's also clear his indecision is unsettling to the Rockies. I'm sure they feel they've made a significant investment in his abilities and have been very generous with allowing him to split time between baseball and football to this point. But generosity has its limits, and in the eyes of the Rockies, Wilson is starting to breach those limits by not valuing their investment in him.

The big X factor in yesterday's piece was not knowing how the Rockies felt about all this. These statements from Gustafson make it fairly clear they're not open to going through yet another season of Wilson pulling double duty, meaning the reality of Wilson's baseball days drawing to a close may be crystallizing faster than I presumed yesterday.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Papajohnallen permalink
    May 25, 2011 3:48 pm

    Kudos  to  TOB, made the right call. It appears the Rockies are going  to follow his lead if RW doesn’t get his act together.

    • Anonymous permalink*
      May 25, 2011 4:04 pm

      Sadly, I believe you’re right. I would hate to see him throw away baseball without devoting his all to it for at least one full year.

      Thanks for reading!

  2. Ewcanes permalink
    May 25, 2011 7:34 pm

    what happens if he goes and plays football and then gets cut by the Rockies…is he able to be picked up by any team, will he have to go back into the draft, or what?

    • Anonymous permalink*
      May 25, 2011 7:47 pm

      This is a good question that I don’t know the answer to. My guess is that his rights, that are currently owned by the Rockies, would be released to Russell at the time they cut him and he’d essentially be an unrestricted free agent.

      But, looking at it harshly and realistically, I would think a prospect that struggled to stay above The Mendoza Line who had yet to devote himself to the craft full-time and was cut by the team that drafted him would have limited options at returning to the game with another MLB team after football ends. In other words, it’d be a moot point.

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