At batting practice before Tuesday’s practice, LSU catcher Mike Papierski deposited two consecutive pitches into the bleachers in right field.
Notably, both swings were left-handed.
The junior came to LSU as a switch-hitter, but abandoned his left-handed swing in the postseason last year with solid results.
In the regional and super regional tournaments, Papierski went 8-for-22 with three doubles and a home run — exclusively from the right side of the plate.
When Papierski stepped back in the batter’s box Tuesday, he hit from the right side. So why the change back to switch-hitting?
“We told him to go away this summer and do what he wants,” coach Paul Mainieri said. “He wants to switch hit.”
Papierski finished the 2016 season hitting .242, and he enters his junior season with a .235 career average.
“It’s something we’re continuing to monitor,” Mainieri said. “He’s had some good at-bats left-handed, he’s had some bad at-bats right-handed. We’re not really sure if we’re going to want him to just go right-handed or continue to switch hit.
“I hope he can switch hit. It makes him more valuable for our team and it makes him more valuable at the next level, but he’s got to be able to get the job done and I think that’s one thing we’re still evaluating.”
Bregman is back
Fresh off an outstanding debut season with the Houston Astros, former LSU shortstop Alex Bregman was back in his old stomping grounds at Alex Box Stadium on Tuesday.
Bregman was in full uniform at the beginning of practice, wearing his old No. 8 jersey while enjoying a long conversation with Mainieri while the Tigers went through batting practice.
He took only one cut in the cage himself, betting hitting coach Andy Cannizaro dinner that he would hit the one pitch he saw out of the park. He lined a ball to shortstop.
Bregman was named the USA Today Minor League Player of the Year after hitting .306 with 20 home runs and 61 RBIs in 80 games with the Astros’ Double-A and Triple-A affiliates.
He got off to a painfully slow start after he was called up to the majors in July, but closed the season strong, finishing with a .264 batting average and eight home runs in 49 games.
Bregman was one of several former LSU players to have a strong professional season, and it made Mainieri proud to see him back on campus Tuesday.
“They don’t forget, they don’t forget the role that LSU and playing in this baseball program had in their lives to prepare them for what they’ve gone on to do,” Mainieri said. “It’s a heartwarming thing for me, and I get so much enjoyment from the success they’ve been having.”
The pitchers dominated the scrimmage portion of Tuesday’s practice.
Alex Lange and Jared Poché each needed 14 pitches to get through a clean inning of work. Freshman right-hander Eric Walker fired a 1-2-3 inning, needing just nine pitches to do so. Doug Norman logged two scoreless innings as well.
Freshman right-hander Zach Hess labored a bit after allowing a solo home run to Greg Deichmann, needing 24 pitches in his one inning, but he flashed a 93 mph fastball and got Jake Slaughter swinging on a sharp breaking ball.