Matt Jones is the online sports editor for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and Northwest Arkansas Newspapers. He and his wife live in Fayetteville.
Weather hampers Hogs' preseason
Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn works with the Razorbacks during the first practice of the season Friday afternoon at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE Mother Nature has thrown a wrench into Arkansas' preseason baseball plans.
The Razorbacks have practiced only once this week after snow blanketed Fayetteville last weekend followed by sleet and below freezing temperatures in the midweek. Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said that practice was on Monday and didn't include outfielders because snow was still on the field.
"We were supposed to get two inches of snow Sunday so we practiced Saturday and put a tarp on the infield," Van Horn said. "We got six inches Sunday. We spent all day Monday getting all the snow off the tarp and we peeled it off and scrimmaged with no outfielders. We had pitchers throw live and it was cold.
"We won't be on the field today and we'll be on there at 10 a.m. tomorrow. It's supposed to be 29 and sunny."
Van Horn said Saturday's practice will be a little early because the team will do a meet-and-greet at Northwest Arkansas Mall in Fayetteville at 4 p.m.
"I'd practice at the mall if there was a high ceiling somewhere," Van Horn said.
A $9.6 million indoor practice facility is being built next to Baum Stadium but it wasn't constructed in time for one of the coldest winters in recent memory. Local schools have missed more than a dozen days since December because of snow and ice.
"It's almost like when we got on the field they were appreciative for being out there," Van Horn said. "A lot of times it's the other way. When I coached at Nebraska it was kind of that way. The coaches were freezing because we were kind of standing still to the side, but those players are acting like it's 70 degrees."
Players such as Clark Eagan and Parker Sanburn, from Wisconsin and Indiana, said they are accustomed to the cold weather, but several days in Arkansas this winter would register as hard ones in the North.
"It's been tough to get out on the field," Sanburn said. "Scrimmaging the other day in the snow just kind of showed we're here for business. We're here to win games. I think the indoor facility will be big for us next year during weather like this, because this is even brutal for back home."
Despite the setbacks, Van Horn said he believes the team has been able to improve since practices began two weeks ago.
"It's been rough, but honestly I feel like we got in some really good work the first 10 days," Van Horn said.
"It's slowed us down a little bit as far as playing the game of baseball the way it's supposed to be played, on dirt and outside. We try not to talk about it a whole lot. It's been a bad winter. It's something that as a team we almost make a joke out of it. We're going to get through it and not going to complain about it. I probably talk about it more than they do."