Asked about comments he made surrounding Greg Deichmann’s crucial error in Saturday’s 2-1 loss to Mississippi State, LSU coach Paul Mainieri said he wasn’t throwing the first baseman “under the bus.”
With LSU trailing 1-0 in the sixth inning, Deichmann caught a routine throw from shortstop Kramer Robertson, but his foot was off the bag. Jake Mangum, the Mississippi State player who hit the ground ball, was safe and came around to score as a crucial insurance run.
LSU lost the game 2-1, stranding the tying run at third base in both the eighth and the ninth inning.
“Basically, we lost the game because our first baseman didn’t keep his foot on the base on a routine play, on a perfect throw,” Mainieri said after the game. “That ends up being the winning run. I always worried about our defense, especially in the infield, and these two games it’s really come back to bite us. In SEC games, there’s no margin for error.”
Before his team boarded the bus to Oxford for a series against Ole Miss, Mainieri reflected on his comments.
“Every year, about once a year, I have to learn my lesson the hard way,” Mainieri said. “I try to be very transparent with you folks, I try not to be so vanilla with everything that I say in coach speak. Some people admire you for that and then what happens is people criticize you for that because they interpret that as you’re blaming somebody. And I’m not blaming anybody. I know what you’re talking specifically about, with the play the other day. Chandler asked me about it and I told him the truth. The point I was making was the margin for error is so small in these games. Something as small as a first baseman taking his foot off the bag too early can lead towards a loss. I wasn’t throwing Greg (Deichmann) under the bus.
“I’ve been in this game my whole life. No one play wins or loses a game for you. It’s a culmination of nine innings of baseball — I should know that more than anybody. When I answer a question honestly, people interpret it like I’m throwing somebody under the bus. It’s a very delicate balance. I like to think I have a good relationship with all of you because you appreciate my honesty and I tell you things. But at the same time, sometimes maybe I’m too in-depth and I get too explanatory and then people interpret that the wrong way. I would never disrespect a kid that way. These kids have a lot thicker skin than folks believe. I never say anything to you that I don’t first say to them.”
Asked about the comments Wednesday, Deichmann said there were “no hard feelings.”
“I’ve been doing this a lot of years and I have a very good relationship with a great majority of the players who have played for me over 34 years," Mainieri said. "They trust me because I tell them the truth, I’m honest with them. There’s no hidden agendas. If you say ‘I want to hear the truth,’ you have to be willing to hear both the good and the bad. The players never have to wonder where they stand with me because I’m very open with them. I think the players love that, I know I would as a player. In the general public with the social media and everything else, people always want to criticize. And it hurts me a little bit. It’s not me. I’m not the type of person who blames others. I’ll take full responsibility for everything. I want the players to get all the credit and give all the blame to me, believe me I want that. The last thing in the world I want to do is see a bunch of young kids blamed for things.
“But the truth of the matter is, they’re the ones that do the playing. And I can’t control how they do. I can work with a player on catching a ball or putting his foot on a base or how to hit or how to throw a pitch, but they’re the ones that have to go out and do it. Sometimes they don’t do it as well as they need to for us to win. It’s not because of a lack of effort or wanting to, I’ve already talked about how hard this game is to play. People are going to make their judgements, but I know who I am and I know the relationship I have with my players. I can’t control that. What I do need to be is a little bit more guarded in how much I say. And I hope you all will respect that because it comes back and bites me sometimes. I wasn’t misquoted or anything it wasn’t Chandler’s fault, Chandler wrote what I said. The intent was not to blame specifically a player for a loss. It was just to make the point of how little the margin is for error in these type of games. Something as small as that can affect the outcome of a game. I was just a little too detailed in how I said it.”