CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Blessed with the athletic ability to make a living playing a sport he loves, Alex Wilson really can't complain.
However, he is quick to tell people that the life of a minor league baseball player isn't an easy one.
"It's not luxurious at all," said Wilson, a Hurricane High School graduate who pitches for the Salem (Va.) Red Sox of the high Class A Carolina League. "It's a good time, though.
"The bad part is riding on buses and staying in hotels. You never get out of either of them. The good part is seeing a lot of the country. I have traveled for college ball and pro ball, and I have been just about everywhere. It's good to get out and see new places and experience new things."
In his second pro year but first full season in the minors, the 23-year-old Wilson quickly has learned that baseball is a job at this level.
"(Organization officials) make it real clear that it's a job," said Wilson, a 6-foot-1, 205-pound right-hander whom the Boston Red Sox selected in the second round of the 2009 Major League Baseball Draft. "It's not just a happy-go-lucky day at the ballpark anymore."
Wilson played two seasons at Winthrop (2006 and 2007) and one season at Texas A&M (2009). He had Tommy John surgery in 2007 and didn't play in 2008, taking a redshirt year with the Aggies in the latter.
Wilson, who went on the Carolina League disabled list Sunday with an ankle bruise, was 24-12 in college - 13-3 as a freshman with a 3.78 earned run average, 6-4 as a sophomore with a 2.51 ERA and 5-5 as a junior with a 4.22 ERA after his one-year, injury-caused hiatus.
The Red Sox chose Wilson with the 77th overall pick and gave him a $475,000 signing bonus last year.
Boston assigned him to the Lowell (Mass.) Spinners of the short-season Class A New York-Penn League. He had an 0-1 record and 0.50 ERA in 13 games - all starts - with 33 strikeouts and seven walks in 36 innings. Opponents hit only .085 against him.
Wilson did so well in his rookie season that he bypassed the low Class A South Atlantic League, robbing him of an opportunity to play for the Greenville (S.C.) Drive and, as a result, against the West Virginia Power.
"I miss West Virginia," said Wilson, who was born in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. "I wonder what it would have been like to play in Charleston in front of my friends and family. It's such a good environment and fun place to play.
"It was something I was looking forward to, but I can't be upset about it because I was able to skip a level. It's a great confidence boost. It lets you know that you must be doing something right.
"It's one of those bittersweet deals. At least I'm finally back toward home (in Virginia's Roanoke Valley) a little bit. It's about 3 or 31/2 away from Hurricane."
His parents, Jim and Ann Wilson, no longer live in the Putnam County community, but he still calls it home. They moved to Cleveland last summer because his father took a job at AB Industries as a geologist.
"Cleveland is about 61/2 hours away from Salem," said Wilson, whose younger sister attends Concord University. "My mom has made it to three or four games. My dad hasn't made it yet. He has been working all the time. He stays pretty busy."
So does Wilson, who said the most difficult part of his profession is the daily grind.