LSU coach Paul Mainieri answered one of the more important questions of the offseason on Sunday night when he named freshmen Alex Lange and Jake Godfrey to the weekend rotation.
Godfrey said Mainieri and pitching coach Alan Dunn brought him into Mainieri’s office to break the news.
Sophomore southpaw Jared Poché has experienced a similar conversation.
One season ago, Poché was called upon to be the squad’s Sunday starter, slated behind former ace Aaron Nola and then-junior left-hander Kyle Bouman. Now he enters the 2015 campaign as the pitcher who will take the rubber on Friday nights, being a veteran on a staff filled with newcomers.
“I look at him a year later, and he’s a much better pitcher than he was last year,” Mainieri said. “He carries himself like a veteran. He’s a great example for not only what he did last year, but how he goes about his business for these young kids. He’s the leader of our staff.”
Poché said he’s been giving the two freshmen any tips he can heading into the season-opener on Friday night.
“I’ve just been kind of picking with them, and they’ll pick with me on just little things,” Poché said. “(I am) just trying to help them make the adjustment from high school to college.”
Stallings named closer
After hinting at the possibility last week, Mainieri confirmed Wednesday that redshirt freshman right-hander Jesse Stallings will get the first shot at closer to start the season.
“I don’t know if it’ll be every game because we’ll have to see how each game plays out, and we have the big picture in mind with the long season,” Mainieri said. “But we’re going to give Jesse Stallings the chance to get the last outs of the game for us. I have all the confidence in the world that he’s ready for it.”
Mainieri said senior left-hander Zac Person will be the setup man, while junior southpaw Hunter Devall and sophomore right-hander Collin Strall will work as situational pitchers, depending on the hitting matchup.
Chinea at cleanup
Junior Chris Chinea may not be getting a start at catcher against Kansas, but he’ll find his way into the starting lineup as either a first baseman or designated hitter, according to Mainieri.
“I still have confidence in Chris Chinea,” Mainieri said. “Chris is going to get the first shot at being our cleanup hitter.”