Chris Chinea didn’t have time to react.
The delivery from Georgia junior right-hander Sean McLaughlin touched 93 mph on the radar gun. It found the LSU junior first baseman’s chin, bringing him to the ground immediately.
“I knew what happened, but I was in shock,” Chinea said. “I looked up and saw blood everywhere, and I was kind of freaking out at the moment.”
LSU coach Paul Mainieri could only watch as the Miami native went down Saturday.
“It scared the Dickens out of me,” Mainieri said.
Chinea’s jaw was X-rayed the following morning, and no fracture was found.
When the Tigers (34-6) host Tulane (24-15) at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in Alex Box Stadium, Chinea said he expects to be in the lineup — wearing a face guard that he says doesn’t get in the way. The contest will give him an opportunity to dig back in to the batter’s box and face live pitching before the top-ranked Tigers square off with No. 2 Texas A&M to start a three-game series Thursday.
Chinea said he doesn’t expect to have any jitters when he steps back up to the plate.
“I’m just going to get my nose in there,” he said. “I have this guard now, and I’m going to be ready to play. I was ready to play on Sunday, and I’m going to be ready to play (on Tuesday).”
Chinea will have four stitches removed from his chin at some point this week. He spoke to reporters Monday with a puffy lip and a bandage covering the stitches.
Bain gets the nod
LSU freshman right-hander Austin Bain never got his turn on the mound this past weekend at Foley Field after Sunday’s contest was rained out.
To make up for the lost outing, Mainieri named Bain the starting pitcher for Tuesday’s game against Tulane.
“I don’t imagine he’ll go more than two innings,” Mainieri said. “We need to get him back out there on the mound and keep him sharp … and then he’ll turn around and start on Saturday.”
Several relievers will be used against the Green Wave, Mainieri said, considering only sophomores Hunter Newman and Parker Bugg saw time against Georgia. For Bain, the approach doesn’t change against Tulane.
“I’m going to go out there and do what I’ve always done,” he said. “Nothing is different.”
Mainieri said he will announce a starter for Thursday’s series-opening game against A&M on Wednesday. He “wants to see how (Alex Lange and Jared Poché) feel” before making a decision.
Both Lange and Poché started Saturday in the doubleheader. The pitchers will be on just four days’ rest between starts, as opposed to the usual six.
Bregman bouncing back
Alex Bregman hasn’t had too many days like Saturday. The junior shortstop struck out three times and committed two errors in the day’s two contests.
He had struck out only eight times and committed three errors before Saturday.
“(It is) just part of it,” Bregman said. “Sometimes you fail. Sometimes you don’t fail at all. It’s a game based on failure. It’s just one of those days. It’s all right.”