Though he’s still not running full speed, Bryce Jordan pulled even with Jordan Romero for LSU’s backup catcher duties in what coach Paul Mainieri on Thursday called a “very intense” competition.
Jordan, who had surgery on a torn meniscus and missed all of fall camp, hopes to be running full speed this weekend, but said he’s felt no pain while crouched behind the plate. He and Romero have alternated innings throughout the beginning of spring practice.
His swing hasn’t suffered, either. Jordan’s hit a home run off Riley Smith and an RBI double off Austin Bain — both projected to crack the starting rotation — in the Tigers’ few spring scrimmages.
Mainieri said starter Mike Papierski probably wouldn’t catch all three games of the first few nonconference series, leaving Jordan a prime candidate to see action when he’s not the designated hitter.
“He’s played extremely well,” Mainieri said of Jordan. “He’s thrown out I think two base stealers and he threw out (Antoine) Duplantis on a great play on a ball in the dirt, threw back side to nail him going to third. He’s receiving the ball well. Romero’s improved, but Bryce Jordan has as well.”
Lochridge moves to second
In a “long term?? move, Mainieri slid freshman O’Neal Lochridge over from third base to second base Thursday in an attempt to relax the St. Thomas More graduate.
Lochridge spent most of Thursday’s early work fielding Fungo grounders with projected starter Kramer Robertson.
“Just struggled with the hard hit balls, his hands were very stiff,” Mainieri said. “It’ll give him a little more time to react. Second base is a much easier position to play than third base. You had to have played third base to understand. It’s a different position, you have to be ready for smashes, have to be ready to go in on bunts, it’s just a very tough position to play.”
Fellow freshman Chris Reid, who had missed time with a minor back injury, now assumes a backup role to projected opening day starter Cole Freeman at third.
Cain coming along
Though Mainieri said he’s improving, new third base coach Nolan Cain needs “a few more weeks” to be fully capable of coaching third in a game.
If he’s not ready by Feb. 19, Mainieri said he would coach third and Cain would coach first. Undergraduate assistant Brent Bonvillain, who is slated to be the first base coach, would remain in the dugout should that situation arise.
“I don’t want to coach third on a full-time basis just because it’s so hard to manage the game from there,” Mainieri said. “But I do think there’s some benefit to breaking him in slowly by having him coach first base first to get him used to being out there and watching the way plays develop and be thinking that way.”