Charlotte Knights

Knights' Wise happy to be home

Chapin native Dewayne Wise wants to get back to the majors, but is happy with his situation in Charlotte.
Chapin native Dewayne Wise wants to get back to the majors, but is happy with his situation in Charlotte.

FORT MILL -- Four days prior to the start of spring training, Charlotte Knights outfielder Dewayne Wise was still searching for a job.

The New York Mets showed a lot of interest in signing Wise. So did the Los Angeles Dodgers. Both told the 30-year-old veteran to "wait."

Wise, who just bought a home in Columbus, Ohio, was working out with Chicago White Sox minor league outfielder David Cook in preparation for the 2008 season.

Later Cook was chatting with Buddy Bell, the White Sox's newly hired director of minor league instruction, when Wise's name popped up.

Then came a telephone call to Wise from Bell, who was with the Cincinnati organization when Wise broke into pro ball in 1997. Wise was the Reds' fifth-round choice in the 1997 draft.

"Buddy gave me a chance to come into spring training and compete for a job. I really did well and now I'm in Charlotte," Wise said recently, prior to a workout at Knights Stadium.

Not only is Wise in Charlotte, he's back home. Wise, entering his 12th pro season, is a Chapin native and owns a house in Charlotte.

Wise wasn't sure where he'd wind up playing this year and really didn't have a preference until the White Sox opportunity arose.

"I didn't care where I went as long as I had a job and it was in a good situation where I could get back to the big leagues," Wise said. "But playing with the White Sox, I said, 'Man, if I go to Triple-A in Charlotte, that would be awesome.'"

And things worked out for Wise, who has spent parts of five seasons in the major leagues with Toronto, Atlanta and Cincinnati.

"Nobody wants to be in the minor leagues," Wise said. "Everybody's goal is to get back to the majors. But my family and friends get to come see me play. Playing in Charlotte -- I couldn't be happier."

Wise's relatives get their first opportunity to see the left-handed hitter this season when the Knights make their home debut with a 7:15 game against Columbus tonight.

Wise has been playing center field for the Knights. He's expected to be one of manager Marc Bombard's most reliable hitters.

"He can run and he's got some power," Bombard said. "We've got a good mix, young guys and older guys."

The 6-foot-1, 195-pound Wise entered this year with a career batting average of .256 in 880 games with 81 homers and 443 RBIs. He batted .200 in five games with Cincinnati last year and .251 with Triple-A Louisville before suffering an injury.

That's been one thing that has hampered Wise in the past three years. He tore a quad in 2005 while with the Detroit organization, dislocated an ankle in '06 and had a hamstring problem in '07.

"That's been one of my bugs -- staying healthy," Wise said. "It has cost me a lot of time (in the majors). I don't like to look at it that way, but things happen for a reason.

"I just want to play hard and stay healthy. I've been staying positive about it and pray about it every day. I just want to go out there, have fun and do whatever it takes to help the team win."

The Knights got off to a 4-2 start after six games with Wise batting .400, collecting three RBIs and stealing a team-high four bases.

The Knights open an eight-game homestand with a four-game series against Columbus, and then welcome Scranton/Wilkes-Barre for four games.