PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — Logan Forsythe’s defensive versatility has become part of his identity, and he should offer the Tampa Bay Rays plenty.
Forsythe, 27, was gained in a seven-player trade with the San Diego Padres in January that saw rising middle reliever Alex Torres sent to the West Coast. Forsythe, a fourth-year major leaguer, is a career .241 hitter with 12 home runs and 57 RBI — all with the Padres. However, he has hit a career .290 against left-handed pitching with a .363 on-base percentage.
With Kelly Johnson’s departure to the New York Yankees in the offseason, Forsythe is expected to fill a similar versatile role for Tampa Bay. Last season, he started at five different positions: second base (31 games), shortstop (nine), third base (eight), left field (seven) and right field (two). He was one of six major league players to appear in at least 10 games at four different positions.
Occasionally, FOX Sports Florida will catch up with new faces in the Rays clubhouse during spring training. Here’s a closer look at Forsythe:
FOX SPORTS FLORIDA: How would you describe your transition so far?
FORSYTHE: Really well. At first, I thought it was going to take some time. But this is a great group of guys over here, very welcoming. They have been friendly right off the bat. That’s just kind of how the organization is run. It’s very open, laid-back, but everyone gets their work in in a good way. It has been fun, a lot of fun.
FSF: Has there been one particular moment that has been the most important in your transition so far? Anything someone said? Meeting anyone in particular?
FORSYTHE: It’s still early. Not really. Everyone has said something nice and has helped me out in some way, just kind of being like, ‘Hey, we do this at this time, and we usually do this.’ So everybody has helped out. But I’m sure there will be plenty of moments.
FSF: What was the greatest lesson learned in your time with San Diego?
FORSYTHE: I learned a lot of stuff in San Diego. It was my first call-up, my first team. Pretty much everything I have learned in pro ball is from them. So it’s hard to just pinpoint one direct thing. Everyone from the coaches to the players to trainers — everyone over there — it was just a whole learning experience. I can run a whole list out for you.
FSF: A lot of players change teams in this era. That’s the way the game is now. How difficult is it to move past that first organization, given your history and tie with San Diego?
FORSYTHE: It didn’t take too long. I’m a Ray now. I’m going to help these guys win, and that’s the attitude around here. So like I said before, everybody has been welcoming. Now it’s time to get out there and play and get some things done.
FSF: You have talked about the versatility you offer. What goes into being an effective versatile player, and when did you know that was going to be your role in the major leagues?
FORSYTHE: That was something that started with San Diego. I started as a one-position guy, but I have played multiple. And then I became a couple-position guy and then I started moving around the infield, and then it just kind of evolved into multiple positions. I like it. It has got its good and bad (points). People like the versatility aspect, but the everyday, one position is what everybody wants to do. For right now, I’m happy where I’m at.
FSF: Is that something you want to do someday — be a one-position player?
FORSYTHE: Yes, are you kidding me? That’s the goal. You get here, and you get to focus on one position and be great at that. That’s what everybody wants to do. I’m happy. It’s fun to go out there and do something and learn something every day at a different position.
FSF: How do you take that step from being a versatile guy to becoming a solid one-position player?
FORSYTHE: I think everybody starts as a one-position guy and then transitions into the utility guy. I think it’s easier to go back, because now all your work at multiple positions can be concentrated to one. To me, that’s a little bit easier.
FSF: There has been a lot of talk about the Rays’ infield this year — each American League Gold Glove Award finalist from last season has returned. What do you expect to learn from Evan Longoria, Ben Zobrist, James Loney and Yunel Escobar?
FORSYTHE: Everything. When they’re talking, I’m listening. I’ve done that my whole career, though. I’ve got guys like them in the infield. It’s fun to watch. It’s kind of like, ‘See the routine, see how they go about it, their work ethic.’ They work smart, very smart. The communication with them is really well (done). They communicate really well. For me, I’m just kind of in the weeds a little bit, kind of listening. I’ll come in. I’m not afraid to ask questions, and they share. So far, it has been great.
FSF: How much do you know about other former members of the Padres organization who came over with you in the trade?
FORSYTHE: Me and Box (Brad Boxberger) played a couple seasons over in San Diego. … After the trade, I was kind of back and forth. We’re all kind of starting to settle down now, because we had to move everything from one coast to the next, from the West Coast to the East Coast. I knew some guys that came — that San Diego got from Tampa — are really good players. And we’ve had some good players come over.
FSF: Any predictions on how good the Rays can be this year?
FORSYTHE: I don’t do predictions. I go day-by-day, man. That’s how this year will be.