Austin Bain to return to weekend role, LSU continues search for closer and Tigers plan to leave Danny Zardon at second base for now _lowres

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- LSU starting pitcher Austin Bain (18) in the dugout after pitching the top of the first inning against Auburn, Saturday, Apr. 11, 2015, at LSU's Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field in Baton Rouge, La.

Both of their shoulders back to full strength, LSU pitchers Austin Bain and Riley Smith will return to action this week.

Bain will start Wednesday’s game at Lamar, and Smith will be the first reliever out of the bullpen, coach Paul Mainieri said after Sunday’s 12-4 win against Cincinnati.

Both pitchers threw a bullpen session Sunday and looked “really good,” Mainieri said, terming Bain’s session the best he has seen since the sophomore has been at LSU.

Bain, who did not pitch this fall, is recovering from offseason shoulder surgery to remove bone spurs. Smith had a bout of shoulder soreness two weeks ago, but doctors deemed it not serious.

Both are candidates for the third spot in Tigers’ weekend rotation, a slot occupied this weekend by John Valek, who scattered two earned runs in 5.2 innings of Sunday’s win.

Tigers return to Houston in 2017

For the second time in three seasons, LSU is heading to Houston.

The Tigers will take part in the 2017 Houston College Classic at Minute Maid Park, Mainieri confirmed Sunday, pending approval from the LSU Athletics Council.

LSU played in the six-team event last season, winning all three games it played, including a 4-2 victory against then-No. 8 Houston and a 2-0 shutout of Baylor. The Tigers will play Baylor again in the 2017 event, Mainieri said, along with games against TCU and Texas Tech.


LSU will spend a portion of Tuesday’s practice at University High’s turf field to prepare for the conditions at Lamar’s Vincent-Beck Stadium, which has turf throughout its infield. … Antoine Duplantis and Jake Fraley will carry three-game hitting streaks into Wednesday’s game. … Bryce Jordan, who set a national high school record by being hit by a pitch 67 times in his Barbe High career, was hit three times in three games this weekend. … Every healthy, available LSU position player played this weekend, capped off by Trent Forshag drawing a pinch-hit walk in Sunday’s eighth inning. He caught the ninth. … All LSU pitchers saw action aside from Nick Bush, Jake Latz and Collin Strall, all of whom are dealing with injuries.