This time it is certain: Freshman right-hander Nick Storz will make his anticipated debut in an LSU uniform Wednesday against Tulane.
“The long-awaited debut of the big man from Brooklyn will happen tomorrow,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri ssaid. “We’re excited about that. Everything has gone well. ... It’s time; it’s just time.”
Mainieri said he does not expect Storz to go more than an inning or two against the Green Wave, but it is a big step just to have the 6-foot-7 Storz take the field.
Mainieri depicted Storz as a missing piece to the team’s pitching puzzle during the first month of this season, touting him at times as having potential to finish the season in the weekend rotation.
Until this point, he has been something of a mystery. Storz had surgery to fix a Bennett’s lesion (bone spur) in his throwing shoulder last September. He has been working his way back into pitching shape since then.
Even his teammates have barely seen what he can do. Senior Austin Bain recalled a story when Storz walked up to a group of his teammates and asked for some guidance on his stride from the mound to the plate.
“We were like, ‘We don’t know; we haven’t really seen you pitch. We don’t know what you look like,’ ” Bain recalled.
LSU had hoped to debut Storz in the Hawaii series finale March 11, but Storz was feeling some residual soreness from a pitching session earlier in the week, so the team delayed his debut.
Mainieri said the process has been a frustrating case of seeing two steps forward followed by a step backward. But Wednesday, he hopes Storz can finally get on a strictly forward track.
The original plan for this week was to start freshman AJ Labas on Wednesday — but with Storz ready, LSU wanted to ensure he would enter the game in a controlled setting.
“We’re going to start him so he can go through the starter’s routine with (pitching coach Alan Dunn) down there with him,” said Mainieri, who added that he did not want Storz to have to debut late in a tight game.
Labas will likely follow Storz with a multiple-inning performance. Mainieri would not say whether he would shorten Labas’ workload with the intention of using him against Vanderbilt this weekend.
“I can’t predict how many innings it will be. We’ll let the game dictate that a little bit,” Mainieri said of Labas. “But we’re hoping he can pitch a good portion of the game, do a good job for us and give us a chance to win.”