TAMPA, Fla. — Russell Wilson’s childhood visions became a reality Monday as he reported to the New York Yankees‘ spring training facility, and donned the pinstripes for the first time.
The Super Bowl-winning Seattle Seahawks quarterback will be spending the next five days with the Yankees following a trade last week that sent him from the Texas Rangers‘ organization to New York’s.
Perhaps the highlight of Wilson’s arrival will come late Monday afternoon, when Yankees batting practice Group 2 takes center stage. Wilson will join Yankees sluggers Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and Greg Bird for a few rounds of live hitting.
“It’s definitely one of the coolest things I’ve ever done,” Wilson said about putting on a Yankees jersey for the first time, with a nod to Babe Ruth. “I tried to get No. 3, but I think somebody had it already.
“Ever since I was a young kid I always dreamed to be a Yankee. I always watched them. My favorite player was Derek Jeter growing up, watching him, his professionalism and how he played.”
Wilson’s late father, Harrison Wilson III, was a lifelong Yankees fan. Before he died in 2010 following complications related to diabetes, the elder Wilson hoped his multi-sport-playing son might one day play for his favorite team.
“I always told my dad I’d be a New York Yankee, and now I’m here,” Wilson said.
Although Wilson is officially on the Yankees’ spring training roster, he won’t be playing in any games. Manager Aaron Boone has stressed that Wilson’s primary duty is to simply enjoy himself.
Before stepping into the cage, Wilson fielded ground balls at second base. In addition to making routine throws to first base, he also worked on his double-play pivots with shortstop Didi Gregorius. Wilson told Gregorius it was his first time taking ground balls in a year and a half.
“I told him it does not look like it,” Gregorius said. “He did not look rusty at all.”
Despite the circus-like atmosphere Wilson’s arrival at Steinbrenner Field has created, he told reporters in a news conference that his appearance here was sincere.
“Some people always, for me, get confused on ‘is this just a stunt’ or whatever. They don’t know me. If you really know me, baseball’s been part of my blood,” Wilson said. “It’s been a part of who I am and where I’ve come from and what I’ve done. When you see me make plays on the football field, a lot of that’s a direct correlation to baseball.”
Although he wants his players to pick Wilson’s brain about leadership, Boone has kept his charges to Wilson simple.
“I don’t want him to feel like he’s got to address this or do that. I want him to kind of come in and just kind of be himself, and get to know us and enjoy himself. A lot of our guys will benefit from him being in camp. It’s exciting to see how excited he is about being here.”
Yankees like Oregon-born Seahawks fan Brandon Drury are ready to see how this week unfolds.
“The guy’s a winner,” Drury said. “Whether it’s baseball or off-the-field stuff. Even mental stuff. … I know he’s really smart and he studies the game and he cares.”
Wilson, who played college baseball at North Carolina State, was drafted in the fourth round of the 2010 MLB draft by the Colorado Rockies. The Rangers acquired him from Colorado in 2013. Wilson spent parts of two seasons playing Class A ball in the Rockies’ organization before he was selected in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft by Seattle.
“I’m going to immerse myself in everything that they’re doing,” Wilson said of the Yankees. “I want to learn as much as I can and also compete as much as I can.”
ESPN’s Jenna Laine and Jon Scher contributed to this report.
Colorado Rockies minor leaguer Colton Welker gets 80-game drug suspension
NEW YORK — Highly touted Colorado Rockies minor league third baseman Colton Welker was suspended 80 games by the commissioner’s office Thursday after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance.
The 23-year-old Welker, drafted in 2016 out of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, is currently on the roster for Triple-A Albuquerque. His suspension goes into immediate effect and will be without pay.
The substance he tested positive for was Dehydrochlormethyltestosterone (DHCMT), which is in violation of Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.
In a statement, Welker said: “I want to make it very clear that I have never willingly nor intentionally ingested any substance to enhance my athletic performance. Given the information provided to me by the players’ association and laboratory, the amount detected was so minimal that it would have no effect on enhancing my performance.”
“I understand that a number of other players, like me, have tested positive for this metabolite at microscopic levels, and I intend to join them in seeking answers as to how this is happening in order to clear my name,” he said.
The Rockies said in a statement the organization was “disappointed” to announce the suspension and believes that “Colton will learn from this experience.”
Welker was in the running to take over at third for Nolan Arenado after the eight-time Gold Glove winner was traded to St. Louis in the offseason.
A fourth-round draft pick, Welker is a .313 career hitter at four minor league levels with 34 homers and 204 RBIs. He has played mostly third base but has some appearances at first.
This spring, Welker credited his success with a leaner look. He said he dropped about 10 pounds from the year before by cutting out carbs and mixing in more vegetables.
As a shortstop growing up, Welker helped lead Marjory Stoneman Douglas to the state title in 2016. It was a moment of immense pride for the community, which less than two years later was ravaged by the massacre of 17 students, teachers and staff at that same school. Welker routinely works out with Stoneman Douglas players in the offseason.
Jose Altuve’s birthday home run answers Bronx boos, lifts Houston Astros past New York Yankees
NEW YORK — Jose Altuve responded to jeering fans by marking his 31st birthday with a go-ahead, three-run homer off Chad Green in the eighth inning, and the Houston Astros beat the New York Yankees 7-4 Thursday to avoid a three-game sweep.
Gleyber Torres made an incredible, daring dash for the Yankees, scoring from first base on an infield single, but New York’s five-game winning streak ended.
Yordan Alvarez hit a pair of solo homers off Gerrit Cole, who turned a 3-2 lead over to Green (0-3) starting the eighth. After Torres pulled the Yankees back within a run in the bottom half, Martin Maldonado hit a two-run homer off Justin Wilson in the ninth, ending a streak of of 75 plate appearances without an RBI.
Green started his own trouble by walking Kyle Tucker leading off. Pinch hitter Aledmys Diaz reached on a single to third baseman Gio Urshela, and Tucker took third when Urshela threw past first for an error
Maldonado struck out to bring up Altuve, booed loudly throughout the series by fans getting to express their anger directly at the Astros since their cheating scandal en route to the 2017 World Series title was exposed. He had been 1-for-11 with no RBIs in the series when he turned on a shoulder-high 96 mph 3-2 pitch and drove it over the left-field scoreboard for a 5-3 lead.
Torres’ sprint came soon after that.
Correa recovered quickly, but Torres saw third uncovered and kept on going. Maldonado left his catcher’s spot and ran to cover third, while reliever Ryan Pressly stayed on the mound.
Correa then made a short toss to third baseman Alex Bregman, who was near second, and Torres raced home ahead of Maldonado and slid headfirst across the plate without a throw.
Andre Scrubb (1-0) pitched a perfect seventh, and Pressly got six outs for his fifth save. Houston climbed back above .500 at 16-15.
Yankees fans held critical signs and booed the Astros throughout the series, anger lingering from the sign-stealing scandal that revealed Houston stole signs with a video camera en route to the title — which include a seven-game win over the Yankees in the AL Championship Series.
Giancarlo Stanton crushed a 117.3 mph solo home run off an ad hanging above the Yankees bullpen in right-center in the third inning, and slumping Clint Frazier hit a tiebreaking, two-run homer in the fourth off Lance McCullers Jr. for a 3-1 lead.
After striking out 62 in his first six outings, Cole fanned just four in seven innings — his fewest since a rain-interrupted outing against Philadelphia last Aug. 3 in his Yankees home debut. He walked none for his fourth start in a row and he allowed five hits.
This was Cole’s first time facing the Astros since leaving them after the 2019 World Series.
Alvarez’s second homer of the game landed in the netting above Monument Park in center field and gave him six career multihomer games.
McCullers had pitched the final four innings of Houston’s Game 7 win over the Yankees in 2017, combining with Charlie Morton on a three-hitter and memorably throwing breaking balls on his final 24 pitches. Now 1½ years removed from Tommy John surgery, McCullers gave up three run, six hits and four walks in six innings.
New York Mets pitcher Carlos Carrasco’s return delayed until late May
The 34-year-old right-hander has been sidelined by an injured right hamstring since spring training and had been making progress. He threw a simulated game Tuesday at the Mets’ spring training complex in Port St. Lucie, Florida, and the team said Wednesday that Carrasco was starting a minor league injury rehabilitation assignment this weekend.
Manager Luis Rojas did not mention Carrasco’s status change when he spoke with reporters before Thursday’s game against St. Louis, and the Mets sent a release later announcing the move to the 60-day IL.
Right-hander Jordan Yamamoto was optioned to Triple-A Syracuse, and the Mets selected the contract of right-hander Tommy Hunter from the Triple-A farm team.
Carrasco was acquired in January from Cleveland along with All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor. He was put on the 10-day IL on April 1, a move retroactive to March 29.
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