TAMPA, Fla. -- With his whirlwind week wrapping up, Russell Wilson finally slowed down long enough to have a steak dinner with some of his New York Yankees teammates. The Seattle Seahawks quarterback wanted to pick their brains a little more, and they wanted to do the same with him.
The Thursday night chat over a feast covered its share of ground: baseball, football, life and being a competitor at the top of one’s game.
The night before, Wilson had teammates cramming the top step to see his lone in-game at-bat of the spring. The dinner was the perfect culmination of a spring training stay that both parties believe will prove beneficial.
“When guys have been asking questions, I’ve just been giving information,” said Wilson, who spent the week with the Yankees. His last day at spring training is Saturday. He went 0-for-1 in his at-bat Friday, striking out on a 93 mph fastball from Max Fried.
“We’ve been back and forth,” he added. “We’ve been in a positive way. We’ve just been talking about the highs and lows and what it takes [to be successful]. The sharing in both places has been very reciprocal.”
The sharing has run the gamut, too, from the jovial to the medical.
Although left fielder Clint Frazier continues to deal with concussion-like symptoms after colliding with an outfield wall last week, the 23-year-old prospect still credits Wilson with some advice that made him feel better for at least one day of his recovery process.
“Concussions are kind of the backbone of the NFL right now. So if you’re going to ask anybody, ask him,” Frazier said. “I know he’s had [a concussion] in the past, and I just asked him, ‘What did you do?’
“He said: ‘Crush water, man.’”
A gulped gallon of water later, Frazier regained his appetite that day and felt more at ease about his situation.
“He comes here, and if he can help us in any way, it makes his time here twice as worth it,” Frazier said. “He’s given me a ‘just drink more water, man.’ It sounds so simple, but I’ve been neglecting it. So, for that, I’m thankful that he’s here.”
Reigning American League Rookie of the Year Aaron Judge also received some of Wilson’s wisdom. Built like he could play tight end alongside Wilson’s Seahawks teammate Jimmy Graham, Judge was curious about how professional football players take care of their bodies after taking weekly beatings.
“He never wastes a minute -- that’s what he talks about,” Judge said. “Every minute, everything he does is for a purpose.
“When he’s working out, everything is for a purpose. The drills he’s doing, [they’re] for a purpose. He’s not just running through to get the reps, to get a feel. It’s with a purpose. Hearing that from him was some pretty cool feedback.”
The Yankees have clearly learned from Wilson, but what do they hope he gained out of his time with them?
“That we have fun with each other, that we’re a tight team,” outfielder Aaron Hicks said. “If anything, that would probably be the most important thing for him to take back to his squad. Even though I’m sure they’re probably doing the same exact thing that we are.”
Much of what Wilson said he found out about the Yankees was that the similarities between them and his own Super Bowl-winning NFL team were striking.
A similar understanding of and expectation for greatness exists in New York the way it does in Seattle, he said. The lifelong Yankees fan attributes much of that to the tradition of success that’s resulted in New York’s 27 World Series titles.
“One of the things we keep talking about is this consistency and this obsession with doing it right every day and having a routine that you stick to,” Wilson said. “That creates winning habits. And winning is a habit.”
Perhaps reporting for spring training will be another of Wilson’s habits. He hasn’t said he would make another return to baseball, but he’s not ruling it out, either. One lesson he’s learned this week: seeing how beneficial simultaneously playing both sports can be.
“It’s such a rewarding experience mentally, physically … and it keeps my arm fresh,” Wilson said. “It’s a great thing. And ultimately, I got to meet some great competitive guys that I relate to, and I got to meet some guys that I can be friends with for a long, long time.”