Which is a good frame of mind to be in for last year he made a virtual guided tour of the farm system, ranging from AA Jacksonville to rookie Ogden with a stop at high A Vero Beach and the extended camp at Dodgertown included. In the field, he was stationed variously at third, second and first. He even volunteered to play the outfield but they never got around to that.
Now, he's at Columbus , which is a return trip for he played there in 2004. Is this really progress?
Actually it's part of the rejuvenation of a career that had seemed to sliding into stagnency at one time. They like him as a third baseman but you have to provide the long ball if you want to play there and that Russell hadn't been doing in the first two years when he managed only one. That's why he slipped all the way down to Ogden, nearly at the end of the line.
And that's where things changed for he ripped 13 bombs, led the Pioneer League in RBI with 54 in 69 games and made the All-Star team.
Now, he says, "I hit 'em at high altitudes, let's see what I can do at sea level."
So far, he's doing just fine. His average is well above .300, he leads the organization in two-base knocks and he's sent four out of the yard, so he's ahead of sea level now, too.. And he's only been asked to play two positions in the field, thus far, first and third.
He's content playing for Columbus. He's a Georgia native (Cartersville) so his family and steady girl friend can see him play often. He knows the various parks and their nuances, regarding it as "A league that evens things out between the hitter and the pitchers. There are parks that are friendly to both."
As a 15th round draft choice in 2003, he declined a college scholarship to Georgia Tech for he was anxious to start a pro career. That's a decision he doesn't regret nor is he likely to as long as he keeps swinging the bat the way he has been.
So, put his name in the lineup so he can get up there and start hacking. There he's a happy warrior.
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