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A Night With The Tourists

McCormick Field

I went to McCormick Field in Asheville on Saturday, a day too late maybe, since Russell Wilson hit his first home run the night prior. But that wasn't free snuggie night, and Saturday was free snuggie night. Now I can parade around the house looking like a wizard with a Pepsi endorsement.

The ballpark is tucked into the side of a hill, which makes for a nice setting, but doesn't do the pitchers any favors. It's less than 300 feet down the right field line, just 373 to dead center, and when you toss in the altitude, it's a pretty cruel environment. Five home runs were hit on this evening, an 8-6 win for the Tourists.

Russell Wilson had a solid night at the plate, going 1-for-2. Alas, no long balls. He put some good at-bats together, worked deep into the count a couple of times, striking out on one occasion, walking on the other. Wilson and Kyle Parker are still the center of attention, if the environment is any indication. There were a number of folks in State or Clemson gear walking around. (As Wilson was walking to the plate late in the game, some fans started chanting "one more year." I'm guessing this is fairly typical.) I spoke for about ten minutes with a writer from ESPN the Magazine who was there for a story on those guys. Chip Alexander was in town late last week and wrote a good feature:

Mikulik called Wilson a "great worker," saying Wilson often beats him to the park. He also said Wilson has been strong defensively, making all the plays in the field.

"And a great teammate," Mikulik said. "He didn't play [Wednesday] and we're getting hammered [18-8 by the BlueClaws], and he's clapping and trying to pick up guys. That's the leadership and character he brings to the table."

Catcher Bryce Massanari, who slugged two homers Thursday, sits near Wilson in the clubhouse. He also grabbed a ride to the park Friday in Wilson's new Mercedes SUV after a workout at a local gym.

"He's a great guy to be around," he said. "He works so hard. You can tell he wants it."

He's still way behind the curve, and you can tell--it's not that he has a low batting average, but how he's arrived at it (a whole lot of strikeouts). Saturday looked like progress, and with the way he works, he's going to catch up eventually.