Pete Carroll supports Russell Wilson being at spring training

ByBrady Henderson ESPN logo
Thursday, March 1, 2018

INDIANAPOLIS -- While many NFL coaches would cringe at the thought of their star quarterback taking part in MLB spring training, the Seattle Seahawks' Pete Carroll says he's not one of them.

"I think it's awesome," Carroll said Thursday from the scouting combine.

Russell Wilson is spending the week with the New York Yankees in Tampa, Florida, as part of the latest spring training tour for the onetime minor league baseball player-turned-four-time Pro Bowl quarterback.

The way Carroll sees it, Wilson is going to use this time to train his body one way or another. What difference does it make if he's taking batting practice and fielding grounders?

"He's going to be working out doing something, anyway," Carroll said. "He reports in impeccable condition. He's extraordinarily dedicated to doing everything right. I don't think at this stage right now in the program here, there's a lot of free time that guys have to do their things that they have to do. Some guys are maybe traveling all over the world. He's playing ball. He's playing baseball. I don't think there is anything wrong with that, at all. The focus that it takes to play at this level -- whether it's baseball, basketball or football -- to compete at that level, the mentality that you have to be at, I think it's only enriching. So I have no problem with that."

Wilson, 29, spent two seasons in the Colorado Rockies' organization, hitting .229 between 2010 and 2011, the year before the Seahawks drafted him in the third round. He appeared at spring training with the Texas Rangers after they acquired him in the 2013 Rule 5 draft. Texas traded his rights last month to the Yankees last month, a team that Wilson admired growing up and the favorite team of his late father.

Wilson reported to Yankees camp on Monday and plans to leave Saturday. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told reporters that he's open to Wilson appearing in a spring training game but said Carroll might not want that.

Asked about that possibility, Carroll instead offered a scouting report of sorts on Wilson's hitting with the Yankees.

"He's not doing a great job of going with pitches away from him," Carroll said. "We are hoping he will start putting the ball into right field a little bit more, you know. We want him to go with the pitch. Aside from that, the curveball is still giving him a problem, like it always did you know, back in the day. So we will see what happens."

Other topics covered by Carroll, who was speaking with reporters for the first time since his season-ending news conference in early January:

  • All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman is on track to be ready by training camp. Sherman had surgery in November to repair his ruptured right Achilles, an injury that ended his season, and recently had a cleanup procedure on the same part of his left foot.

Carroll expressed optimism on Sherman's recovery after seeing him within the past week.

"Very positive," Carroll said. "He's had a seemingly great process up until now. It's a bit of a setback for a couple of weeks now because he is in the boot on the other foot, but he is not slowing down. He's working like crazy. He's having a fantastic offseason, his mentality is good. He's competing like crazy right now.''

  • Carroll had no new information on the health of strong safety Kam Chancellor, defensive end Cliff Avril or defensive tackle Malik McDowell. Chancellor and Avril suffered career-threatening neck injuries last season; McDowell didn't play as a rookie after suffering what the team called a severe concussion in a summer ATV accident.

"Those guys are still in process and we are waiting for the word where they have their stations along the way where they check in with the docs and all that," Carroll said of Chancellor and Avril. "Really holding out hope that things work out.''

  • Carroll's comments on Thursday also marked his first since he fired several assistant coaches, including offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, offensive line coach Tom Cable and defensive coordinator Kris Richard. At least eight assistants from last season will not return in 2018, marking the largest overhaul of Carroll's staff since he took over in 2010. Carroll spoke only in vague terms about the decisions to fire Bevell, Cable and Richard, who had all been on staff since at least 2011.

The Seahawks hired Brian Schottenheimer as offensive coordinator, Ken Norton Jr. as defensive coordinator and Mike Solari as their offensive line coach.

"I just felt it was time," Carroll said. "It really comes back to compete, and just trying to find a way to get a little bit better. That's why we made those choices. I'm really excited about the guys that are here, and how it's working out so far. We are seeing the new energy. I am energized by it. The whole group is. And we are looking forward to working to see how it's going to turn out."

  • Carroll was asked about where things stand with All-Pro free safety Earl Thomas, who has one year left on his contract and floated the possibility of a holdout if he doesn't get a new deal.

"Let's see, last year at this time he had retired," Carroll said jokingly, in reference to the stir Thomas caused when he mentioned the possibility of retiring after he broke his leg in December 2016. "I'm not sure where to put that right now. Earl and I have talked about some stuff. That specifically was not very much on the top of our discussion. He's a great competitor he wants to take it as far as he can and I admire the heck out of him.''

  • Carroll hedged when asked if the Seahawks are optimistic about re-signing tight end Jimmy Graham, one of the team's 16 unrestricted free agents.

"I hope so," Carroll said. "I'd love to keep him. We love Jimmy, we love what he did. He had a very effective year for us last year. We'd love to have him back. We'll see how it goes and see how the competition is for him."