FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas played without All-America selection Matt Goodheart last weekend due to an illness, but Dave Van Horn had some good news on that front Wednesday.
In his Zoom conference with the media, Van Horn announced Goodheart is available this weekend.
“He was cleared to play so we’ll see how it goes at workout today,” Van Horn said. “I’m not sure if I’ll start him tomorrow but if he’s good to go he’ll be in the lineup at least a couple of times a week this weekend. Obviously it would probably require moving around some people whether I take an outfielder out or a third baseman out or move somebody over, it’s kind of the way it looks so far.”
If Goodheart starts at designated hitter. Then Van Horn will have to find a spot for Brady Slavens who served in that role last weekend. Slavens went 5-12 hitting one home run, knocking in four runs and batting .417. The other players who be shifted around are Cullen Smith at first base, Jacob Nesbit at third and Cayden Wallace in right field. Van Horn was pleased with how Slavens made the transition from junior college to Arkansas this past weekend.
“Well I thought he handled it real well,” Van Horn said. “If you think about his story he left high school early like Robert did. He went to Wichita State in the spring of his senior year of high school, and actually went back to Wichita State in the fall. It was coaches than recruited him and he just didn’t have a good feeling there, and he decided, ‘Hey I’m going to go to junior college in the spring. And put up monster numbers for about a month there.
“Then the season ended, and we got him. He does have a little bit of experience at the Division 1 level being around some environments, but that environment down there is different, you know. The level of competition. Playing for Arkansas and right on the edge of being in the lineup and DH’ing. I thought he handled it well. He attacks the baseball. He goes up there to hit. He’ll take a walk every now and then. He’s here to swing it. If it’s around the zone, he’s going to take a hack, basically, is what we say. I like his approach.”
As far as Goodheart, Van Horn was asked about him last weekend in Arlington.
“And as far as Matt, he’s got some stomach issues,” Van Horn said Saturday night. “He couldn’t make the trip. We’re hoping to get him next weekend, but if we don’t, we just want him to get healthy and get back. We put him in three-hole. We flipped some of our guys in the order. It makes our lineup deeper. We’re just hoping that Matt feels better soon.”
Then on Sunday, Van Horn was once again asked about him.
“We don’t know yet,” Van Horn said. “When we get back on Tuesday, I know that he’s going to see a, I don’t know, doctor and they’re trying to work on some things. But I don’t know all the details right now. I just want him to feel better. Obviously we miss him in our lineup. He’s one of our best hitters, but he’s got to be healthy and have the right mindset where he can concentrate on the game.”
Last season, Goodheart started all 16 games. He hit three home runs, knocked in 18 runs while hitting .302.