AUBURN, Ala. — Minus a few students on a porch down the left-field line, Auburn’s Plainsman Park provides a welcoming environment for visitors. Not much noise is made and, as a result, intricacies of the game are audible to all who enter the 4,096-seat venue.
LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri ensured those would all come from his dugout.
Mainieri said he addressed his youthful team’s dugout demeanor in two separate team meetings — one following Saturday’s doubleheader split and one before Sunday’s 10-5 win.
“There is a certain level of pride that comes with being an LSU baseball player,” Mainieri said he told his players. “You’re not only representing this team and this university, but a lot of great players who came before you. We’re going to win some and we’re going to lose some, but the way you act and the way you carry yourself, the discipline you show, the way you pull for your teammates and develop that camaraderie — that should be constant. And it hasn’t been.”
Progress was unmistakable Sunday. LSU players were noticeably more energetic than in their previous two games, encouraging teammates after each pitch, yelling nicknames and bouncing about the dugout more vibrantly.
“It was a much more fun atmosphere in the dugout,” Mainieri said. “The guys were lively; they were pulling for each other. When you’re that way and you’re more disciplined, you play better. It’s that simple. It’s a young team, learning and it’s a constant process.”
Cartwright ‘felt something pop’
Mainieri didn’t have a concrete update on reliever Alden Cartwright, who exited Sunday’s 10-5 win after throwing four pitches in the sixth inning.
Cartwright fired his final pitch, which bounced in the dirt well in front of home plate, and immediately turned around, crouching behind the mound. Trainer Cory Couture accompanied Mainieri to the mound, and the Baton Rouge native quickly exited after Couture examined his right elbow.
Cartwright remained in the dugout through the final innings, with ice on his arm.
“(Cartwright) just said he felt something pop,” Mainieri said. “Let’s hope that it’s not something that popped — (that) it’s just a strain or something — but it just broke my heart to see that. The kid’s been pitching his heart out for us. Just out of nowhere.”
Latz to face live hitters Wednesday
After a 45-pitch bullpen session Saturday and a short-box session Sunday, LSU left-hander Jake Latz is slated to face live hitters Wednesday, Mainieri said.
Latz accompanied the team to Auburn and was on the active roster while rehabbing from November surgery to correct a stress reaction in his left elbow.
“That’ll be the test because it’ll ramp up his intensity a little bit,” Mainieri said. “We’ll see how he feels after that and, if everything goes well, he could pitch in a game that following week.”