A two-week stint with the Madison-Wisconsin Mallards of the Northwoods League is the perfect balance for Saluki pitcher Cody Forsythe this summer, according to both the senior southpaw and coach Ken Henderson.
Unlike position players, college pitchers must be careful of overworking their arms during the summer season, which could lead to injury.
“We encourage our position players to play summer baseball, it’s very important developmentally,” Henderson said. “Pitching is a different story altogether. Depending on how much they throw in the spring we tell them what to do in the summer.”
The 2012 season was Forsythe’s second straight year of throwing more than 100 innings, so it was important he didn’t overwork himself this summer, Henderson said.
Forsythe said he never played summer ball before, but it was something he had always wanted to do. When the Mallards had a few pitchers late to the team because they were still participating in the NCAA postseason tournament, the club offered him his chance.
“The Northwoods League is notorious for being very competitive, with good pitchers and talented hitting,” Forsythe said. “It was a good situation for me and a good chance for me to improve.”
Forsythe said his summer goals include getting stronger and keeping in shape, as well as working on his mental approach to the game, which he hopes to rub off on the younger players next year.
Many players use their time on summer teams to improve certain skill sets and to draw notice from big league clubs. Henderson said his intention is for his players to return to Carbondale in one piece.
“Our players are on loan for those guys and we want them back healthy,” he said. “I don’t care about the numbers they put up or the statistics. I want them to improve and come back healthy.”
Forsythe made starts for the Mallards on June 3 and 9.
While Forsythe was roughed up in his two appearances with the Mallards – he allowed 13 runs in 9.1 innings – he said the experience was enjoyable overall.
“It’s like a big-league feel there, it almost felt like playing for a minor league team,” he said. “The stands were always really rowdy and the fans were nuts, they kind of worshipped us players.”
The Mallards are known for their inspired fan base.
“We’re extremely fortunate to lead the nation in every attendance statistic for summer league baseball for the past six years,” Mallard general manager Conor Caloia said. “We outdraw a lot of double-A and triple-A teams, the fans are great.”
Caloia said the Mallards average over 6,000 fans per game, while the next closest team averages half as many.
In the end, all parties were satisfied with the experience, as Forsythe saw what summer baseball had to offer but still stayed healthy.
“We are looking for team players that will do a good job for the time they are available, and we were happy that Cody could do that for us,” Caloia said.