The difference in the personalities of Wingnuts third baseman Michael Thompson and first baseman Stephen Pearson is most evident in where each makes his offseason home.
Both are California natives — Thompson is from Covina, near Los Angeles, and Pearson was born in the central-California coastal town of Daly City.
Pearson is attached to his home and can't understand why Thompson isn't. Thompson moved to Wichita in 2008 and has since settled here — he lives downtown with his fiancee.
"I'm on tornado watch right now," Pearson said. "Back home it's 80 degrees, so I'd be sitting by the pool. I like Wichita, I just love California. It's a big difference. I don't know what Thompson's thinking, but I won't be moving out here anytime soon."
Though they spend most games about 120 feet apart, their relationship doesn't often extend beyond the field.
Both fit into the stereotype of laid-back California guys to varying degrees — that description best fits Pearson and Thompson is more outwardly emotional.
"We've never really hung out, so (the relationship) has never really changed," Pearson said. "Now he's locked down, he's engaged. He just does his own thing and I do my own thing and we get along. We're opposite, but we can get along."
Even though Thompson and Pearson don't have a close friendship, they're bound together as the only current Wingnuts players who have been with the team since the beginning of the inaugural 2008 season.
They're two of eight players in the American Association who have played 80 or more games with the same team in each of the last two seasons and are on that team's 2010 opening day roster.
"I think that shows you this is a great place to play," Wingnuts manager Kevin Hooper said.
It also shows their careers haven't gone in the direction each has hoped.
Thompson reached advanced Class A with the Houston organization in 2005, then hit 19 home runs in Class A in the Royals organization two years later.
That was his last taste of affiliated baseball, though. He was thought to be close to being signed by the Yankees organization in 2008, when he led Wichita with 10 home runs, but nothing materialized.
Thompson's offensive numbers dipped last season, and at 26 he's still looking for a way to reach his career goals.
"The type of guy that Hooper likes to have here is the guy who wants to take his career further than independent ball," Thompson said.
If baseball wasn't part of the equation, Thompson would be plenty happy in Wichita. He's getting married soon. He finished his college education here — as did Pearson — at Newman University.
Thompson doesn't want to let himself become too comfortable, though, because that could mean giving up the game.
"It's a bittersweet thing," Thompson said. "But I've been happy here and it's become home for me."
Thompson and Pearson have become the faces of the franchise along with Hooper, who played for Wichita in 2008 and became manager last season.
Presented with the alternative of toiling in the low levels of the minor leagues and having no identification to fans, Thompson expresses some satisfaction with his current lot.
Pearson isn't as accepting.
His sense of urgency is higher because he's never played affiliated baseball. As a first baseman, it's a requirement that he hits for power, and with 11 home runs in 754 career at-bats, he hasn't caught the eye of a major-league organization.
Pearson bulked up during the offseason and has worked with new hitting coach Jose Amado on translating gap hits into homers.
"I'd go to rookie ball in a heartbeat," Pearson said. "Obviously, I'm way too old (26) for that. But just to get in an organization, every day you know you have a chance of going up and that's what you're playing for. Here, I'm playing to get to the next level, but there you have a chance to keep rising through the ranks. Yeah, I'd take Mexico — anywhere."