LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri summed up his squad’s fall camp with one sentence on Friday afternoon: “These pitchers… they’re fragile, man.”
After losing both sophomore right-hander Russell Reynolds and freshman southpaw Jake Latz to elbow injuries, freshman pitcher/infielder Austin Bain will miss the remainder of fall camp with shoulder soreness.
Mainieri said Bain had experienced shoulder pain throughout the summer, and he had hoped early rest would allow the Geismar native to fully recover. Though Bain hadn’t pitched since camp opened, Mainieri said the rookie re-aggravated the injury.
An MRI showed no structural damage in the rookie’s shoulder, though Mainieri felt it was best he step off the diamond to help the healing process.
“We don’t think it’s anything serious at all that our trainer can’t work out for him, but it is going to necessitate that he misses the fall,” Mainieri said. “We’re hoping he’ll be ready to go sooner than later. Obviously, he’s going to be starting behind everyone else.”
Redshirt freshman left-hander Christian Pelaez is also dealing with shoulder pain, and he went for an MRI on Thursday.
Mainieri said he still hasn’t received a report from the doctor. Pelaez was redshirted last season after dealing with a lingering shoulder injury.
“He pitched one time, and not very effectively, and then he complained about his shoulder being hurt,” Mainieri said. “We’ve got him at the doctor now.”
Pitchers enjoying new baseballs
The new baseballs have more effect than simply flying farther and creating more home runs. With the new balls, the seams have been lowered to prevent the amount of drag on the ball as it comes off the bat.
The different seams could cause issues for pitchers as they adjust to the new feel and grip. Mainieri said his pitchers actually like the difference.
“They don’t have to worry quite as much about blisters on their fingers because of the high seams,” Mainieri said. “The ball feels smaller and lighter in their hands, so they feel more confident with its velocity. Some guys even say the movement is better.”
There have been some negative effects with the change, too.
“It certainly has a negative impact on their ability to throw a breaking ball,” Mainieri said. “I think it’s all kind of opinions of each individual player. The mind part of the game is so important. Whatever the player feels is what reality is.”
Toying with the lineup
It’s never too early to begin experimenting with the lineup card, and Mainieri has his fair share of time to decide how his batting order will look come opening day Feb. 13.
Two main positions in the order — leadoff and the two-hole hitter — remain up for grabs as fall camp progresses. Mainieri said three lefty hitters have received time atop the order this fall, including sophomore left fielder Jake Fraley, junior center fielder Andrew Stevenson and junior right fielder Mark Laird.
Mainieri also said he prefers to have a left-handed batter hitting behind a base stealer in the lineup because of the challenge it poses for the opposing catcher to make a clean throw to second base.
Junior shortstop Alex Bregman, who led the Tigers with 45 appearances in the No. 3 spot in the order last season, may move up one slot at times in 2015.
“It’s important to have left-handed presence against right-handed pitchers, but not necessarily in the two-hole,” Mainieri said. “Bregman might end up batting in the two-hole for us this year.”
Cannizaro gets bump
Andy Cannizaro, the LSU baseball team’s new recruiting coordinator and hitting coach, will make $150,000 a year, according to his contract obtained by The Advocate through a public records request.
Cannizaro’s salary is $25,000 more than his predecessor, Javi Sanchez. Cannizaro can make an extra $36,000 if he fully meets incentives.
-- Ross Dellenger contributed to this report.