It may seem too cold, but baseball season is right around the corner. We are wrapping up the Hawgs Illustrated baseball preview this week. The cover shoot took place Thursday, despite the bitter weather.
I really didn't have the heart to ask for what I wanted most for the cover, a shot of third baseman Logan Forsythe with his 1989 Chevy pickup truck.
It is perhaps the worst looking ride on campus owned by any Arkansas athlete on scholarship. Not that it would bother Forsythe to pose with that old truck. Nothing — not even the cold Thursday — causes Forsythe to complain or flinch.
The thing that makes that old truck interesting is that Forsythe is likely to be the first UA baseball player taken in the June pro draft. He sure doesn't act like he's big stuff, though.
Forsythe's old, white pickup — the paint is gone in several places, most notably a huge chunk off the roof — runs great despite 189,000 miles. It obviously does well enough to make the drive from his home in Memphis, Tenn., several times a year.
Forsythe is the unquestioned leader of this Arkansas baseball team. He's easily the best player and a sure thing to be done at Arkansas after this, his junior year. His stock soared after he led USA's national team with both his hitting and fire last summer despite earning his spot as a utility player.
Arkansas hitting coach Todd Butler raves about Forsythe both for his hitting and his leadership as the Hogs approach the Feb. 22 start to the season. Butler pointed to Forsythe's intangibles as he talked about that old truck.
"I pulled up the other day in the parking lot and Logan pulled in beside me," Butler said. "I told him, ‘You've got that old truck right now, but come this summer after the draft, you are going to have a nice new ride.' But you know what, I'm not sure it matters."
That's the truth. Casey Coon, who will hit next to Forsythe in the lineup for the second straight year, doesn't think Forsythe will dump that truck no matter what happens.
"That's Logan, that old truck," Coon said. "That represents him. He's very low key off the field, but he takes on a different personality on the field, real fiery.
"That's the right ride for him, that truck. I think it holds personal significance. He doesn't care about things like that, just about playing ball."
Does anyone kid Forsythe about his ride?
"No, why would we?" Coon said. "It's a pretty good truck. It gets around just fine. We load up and go places in it."
Coon said the truck's only shortcoming is space. It's a true two-seater because of a console across the bench seat.
"We pile into it to lift weights because he takes his turn driving like the rest of us," Coon said. "There's just not a lot of room.
"It's probably the worst ride on the team, but you aren't going to hear anyone say anything to Logan. Really, what are you going to say,'Dude, your truck sucks.' That's not going to happen."
There is nothing wrong with the engine or tires, pitcher Shaun Seibert said.
"We were out eating on Sixth Street and he was pulling out onto the road, making a left turn," Seibert said. "He had to jump on it a little and it did just fine."
Forsythe loves it. He said it's been his "all my life." Obviously, that's a stretch since he hasn't been driving all of his life. It wasn't deemed worthy to come to the Ozarks by his parents when he signed with the Hogs. A newer, more shiny Chevy Cavalier was purchased before his freshman year.
"I brought the Cavalier up here, but it kept breaking," Forsythe said. "They had given the truck to my brother. I went home and asked to have it back. I don't think I'm ever giving it up again. It's got some miles on it, but it's a really great truck. It really is."
Forsythe's teammates don't ever see him giving it up again.
"There may be a point when he needs to get something else, but I bet he doesn't get rid of that truck," Seibert said. "I bet he keeps that truck forever."
It's serving him well and might be running better than Forsythe for the moment. The Hogs' all-star candidate is mending a bad wheel after winter surgery. He battled a sore foot late last spring and it flared up in the summer and again in the fall. He sat out everything but the hitting in the fall. He did participate in the Hogs' fall world series, but after his hits the coaches called it a hit or an out and put in a pinch runner.
Doctors have cleared him for work in the cage after ruling his pre-Christmas surgery to remove bone fragments from the bottom of his foot. Coach Dave Van Horn said they'll take it slow with Forsythe in the preseason schedule.
"If we have to sit him out, we will," Van Horn said. "And, when he is able to play, maybe he'll just be the designated hitter for awhile. We want him full speed at the end of the season, not the start."
Forsythe is healing just fine. Hopefully, he'll be full speed soon, just like that old, white truck.
State of the Hogs: Logan Forsythe
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