Finished with an afternoon bullpen session, Jared Poché returned to the dugout Monday, two days after taking the loss in the 4-3 nightcap of a doubleheader against Alabama.
“I felt like I could have pitched today,” Poché quipped.
It’ll come soon enough.
LSU coach Paul Mainieri tabbed Poché to start Thursday’s series opener at No. 2 Texas A&M, returning on four days’ rest after his five-inning Saturday stint against the Crimson Tide. In that game, he threw 76 pitches, allowing four hits and one earned run.
The Tigers’ other two starters, Alex Lange on Friday and John Valek III on Saturday, will operate on five days’ rest — one day less than normal. Mainieri said Poché’s low pitch count and style made him the ideal candidate to come back on four days’ rest after a Friday rainout forced LSU to play a Saturday doubleheader.
Lange threw 96 pitches in his Saturday start, spanning 6.2 innings.
“It’s very unusual to have anybody pitch on four days’ rest and, Lange being a power pitcher, he’s already coming back on one day less rest than normal, and I didn’t want to do two days’ less rest than normal with a power pitcher,” Mainieri said. “Had we played (against Alabama) on Friday, he would have started on Thursday. It’s only because of the rest factor.”
The concept isn’t foreign for Poché, who recalled coming back on similar rest in the high school playoffs while at Lutcher. Both he and pitching coach Alan Dunn reiterated that nothing changes in preparing for a short-rest start, other than combining some activities that would have otherwise been spread out over six days.
“It just shortens up the week a little bit,” Poché said. “But the big league guys do that every start, so it’s nothing impossible to do. Threw a bullpen today, arm feels great, body feels great, so I’m ready to roll.”
Texas A&M will face a similar scenario after its series opener against Auburn was washed out Friday, forcing a doubleheader. The Aggies have not announced a rotation.
Papierski, Smith get MRIs
Although it was wrapped when he returned from batting practice, catcher Mike Papierski said his injured left thumb is fine, and he could catch Tuesday’s game against UL-Lafayette in Metairie.
The victim of a botched hit-and-run, Papierski hurt the finger when he was caught stealing in Saturday’s 4-3 loss to Alabama, sliding into the defender’s foot. Papierski said he felt no pop or tear in the thumb, but Mainieri said the team sent him for an MRI on Monday for precautionary reasons.
Mainieri said Jordan Romero will “probably” catch Tuesday night, but he wouldn’t rule Papierski out.
Meanwhile, pitcher Riley Smith will go for an MRI on his shoulder; the nagging injury hasn’t responded like the team had hoped. Mainieri said Smith will not travel to Texas A&M.
“It’s not responding exactly the way that he wants it to,” Mainieri said. “We don’t know exactly what the problem is. We’re going to get the MRI for cautious reasons, to make sure there’s nothing wrong with him and that he doesn’t hold back and he cuts it loose.”
Smith developed the soreness the week before the season opener and has pitched just three innings all season.
Follow Chandler Rome on Twitter, @Chandler_Rome.