A few things at Turchin Stadium will remind LSU assistant Andy Cannizaro of the old days when he makes his return Tuesday night.
The indoor batting cage down the left field line is one of them. He spent plenty of hours in there.
The shed beyond the left field wall is another. How could he forget those rowdy Tulane fans who use the shed’s roof as seats during games?
That’s about it, though.
New Turchin Stadium sits is in the same spot as the old field, but almost everything else has changed since Cannizaro ran around the bases as Tulane’s base-stealing, All-America shortstop; since he played in the home dugout as a bat boy to his father, a Tulane coach; since he sat in the stands decked in green and rooting for his childhood favorite.
He doesn’t need reminders. He knows things might get emotional when he plays a game against his alma mater for the very first time — dressed, too, in colors that make Tulane fans shudder.
“It’ll be a little weird to be in the dugout wearing purple and gold,” Cannizaro said.
LSU, 21-3 and ranked No. 1 in the nation in five of six major college baseball polls, meets Tulane (17-7) at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, continuing a rivalry that received another chapter when coach Paul Mainieri hired Cannizaro last summer.
Javi Sanchez’s replacement is, after all, Tulane’s all-time leader in games played (248), at-bats (1,030), hits (350), doubles (85) and stolen bases (128). And he was inducted in 2007 into the Tulane Athletics Hall of Fame.
It doesn’t end there. His father was a long-time Tulane assistant coach, and his brother played for Tulane recently. Cannizaro, raised in Mandeville, spent summers at old Turchin Stadium and traveled with the team on some road trips.
Mainieri and Cannizaro had a “long talk” about him returning to Tulane on Sunday.
“We’ve been talking about it wondering what kind of reaction he’s going to get when he goes out there to hit infield and outfield,” Mainieri said. “Are they going to cheer him or jeer him? I would think they’d cheer him. Guy is probably the greatest player in Tulane baseball history.
“I told him, ‘It’s going to be really weird for you tomorrow. You need to be prepared for that,’” Mainieri said.
Cannizaro is more anxious about the crowd reaction than anything.
“Hopefully I don’t get booed,” he said with a laugh.
Cannizaro’s hitters — he’s the recruiting coordinator and hitting coach — have been on a roll lately.
LSU had 20 hits in three of its first 24 games. The program didn’t have 20 hits in a game the past four seasons.
Think he wants to keep that going? He sure does, said LSU center fielder Andrew Stevenson.
“I’m sure he’s going to want to put up some big numbers against them,” Stevenson said. “He’s going to have fun going back.”
Cannizaro’s hitters will be up against an unknown of sorts with snazzy stats.
Tulane is starting Patrick Duester, a 6-foot-6, right-handed junior-college transfer. He’s started five games, is 3-1 and has allowed just one earned run (eight unearned) in 26.1 innings.
The Tigers will have Tulane’s unique field to deal with, too. Greer Field’s infield is artificial turf, a slower surface in which groundball hits aren’t as plentiful.
They know all about that. LSU lost to Tulane at Turchin last season, a head-shaking, five-hit, two-error, 3-2 loss that came in the midst of a nasty hitting and winless skid in 2014.
Cannizaro was a scout for the New York Yankees then. He’s wearing purple and gold now, and his hiring has a few others trading out Tulane green for LSU purple.
His parents will be in the stands Tuesday wearing LSU colors and pulling for the Tigers, he said. And a few of his old Tulane teammates are following LSU for the first time in their lives.
“It’ll be the first time the Cannizaro family isn’t pulling for Tulane,” he said. “There might be some weird feelings at first, but we’re going over there on a business trip.”
The business: Beating his old team, of course.
“It’ll be weird for him,” longtime LSU assistant Will Davis said. “I know where his heart lies, though. He wants to get a win really bad.”
Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter @DellengerAdv.