LSU’s infield just got a little thinner.
Sophomore infielder/catcher Bryce Jordan will miss the rest of fall ball after tearing his meniscus while playing catch Wednesday, coach Paul Mainieri said Friday.
Jordan will have surgery Monday, and Mainieri expects him to be fully recovered by the spring.
“It’s really a shame because he was really doing well — I mean just outstanding,” the coach said. “He was swinging the bat extremely well and catching well out at first base.”
Mainieri said the injury will require about six weeks of recovery. Jordan suffered the injury in what Mainieri termed a “freak accident” Wednesday while playing catch. Before fall practice began Sunday, Mainieri said Jordan and junior-college transfer Bryce Adams were the leading contenders at first base.
Adams played first base on both the purple and gold teams for most of the Tigers’ scrimmage Thursday night, which Jordan watched on crutches. LSU needs to replace every infielder from last year’s team, and Mainieri said losing Jordan for the fall may slightly change how he handles the infield competition.
Sophomore Greg Deichmann and true freshman Brody Wofford — who played third base and right field Thursday night — will get a chance at first base, but Mainieri doesn’t know “when or how much.”
“We’ll have to see how it goes in the next few days,” he said.
Hold your horses
With so few returning position players on the roster, Mainieri has numerous personnel decisions ahead of him.
He’s in no rush to make them, though. It’s only the first week of fall ball, but the competition is fierce at virtually every position.
Mainieri said he plans to “reserve judgment” on position battles for now, but he hopes his decisions will be tough when the time comes to set a lineup.
“If you have players to choose from that can all do the job in a very good way, that’s a situation that you want to have,” the coach said. “I don’t have to make the decision yet on anything, so I’m not going to. I’ll let the kids keep playing and see if it plays itself out.”
When it comes to the infield, Mainieri first wants to settle the competition at shortstop, where junior Kramer Robertson and true freshman Trey Dawson played Thursday. The other contender is junior-college transfer Cole Freeman, who smacked an RBI triple and made a few diving stops at second base.
Mainieri had Robertson play shortstop all this week and plans to give Freeman a shot there next week. Six outfielders, three of which are true freshmen, have played well in LSU’s handful of scrimmages, Mainieri said.
Junior Jake Fraley — the only returning everyday starter — shifted from left field to center field in place of the rangy Andrew Stevenson.
“If you asked me today who I would start in the outfield among those six guys outside of Fraley, I couldn’t tell you,” Mainieri said. “The other five guys are all neck and neck.”
Excluding pitchers, LSU fielded six true freshmen, four junior-college transfers and no seniors Thursday.
Mainieri isn’t losing any sleep over his pitching staff.
The coach, however, is determined to designate a third and fourth starter behind sophomore Alex Lange and junior Jared Poché before the season starts. He plans to gradually extend his pitchers’ innings in each outing.
Of the six pitchers who were on the mound Thursday, none stayed longer than two innings. Mainieri said “it’s still too early” in fall practice to have players throwing that many pitches.
“We’re trying to build up some endurance and strength first,” he said.
Lange and Poché will be the first hurlers to go three innings, which Mainieri anticipates will happen at the end of this week. The rest of the pitching staff will follow suit and work up to a limit of five innings.
Mainieri has been impressed with true freshman Caleb Gilbert and junior-college transfer Riley Smith, and he said sophomore closer Jesse Stallings has developed a changeup and a split-finger to accompany his low-90s fastball.