|Steve Cannon/Associated Press|
|Jameis Winston has hopes of being able to compete as a pro in both football and baseball.|
The New York Yankees open their spring training schedule on Tuesday, and the opposing closer won't be Jonathan Papelbon, Huston Street, Joe Nathan or any other Major League flame-thrower.
But it could be a future one.
The Yankees open their exhibition slate in Tampa against the Florida State Seminoles, whose closer happens to be Heisman Trophy-winning QB Jameis Winston. Winston will be on hand with his baseball teammates and football coach Jimbo Fisher, who is scheduled to throw out the first pitch.
Jameis Winston through the yearsCheck out Florida State's new quarterback, "Famous" Jameis Winston, as he emerges as one of college football's new stars.
Winston has said he'd like to be the next Deion Sanders or Bo Jackson by playing in the NFL and Major League Baseball, specifically with the Yankees.
He was picked by the Texas Rangers (the same team that acquired the rights in December to Russell Wilson in what appears to be a publicity stunt) in the 15th round of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft. Miami (Fla.) baseball coach Jim Morris thinks Winston could be a "first-rounder in both sports."
On the young season, Winston has made three appearances, retiring 12 of 13 batters and not allowing a run. Opponents are batting .077 against him. He's had just two plate appearances but has made the most of them, with a hit and a walk.
Our sources tell us Winston's baseball dreams are a longshot, that he's a decent player in college but not MLB material. That doesn't mean the major leagues aren't intrigued by his athleticism; they are. But he's no different than hundreds of athletic freaks professional sports leagues try to cross-pollinate with (i.e. basketball players converted into tight ends).
But when it comes to negotiating his first NFL contract, whenever that comes, it's not bad leverage to have in your back pocket.