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LSU first baseman Nick Coomes (13) follows the pitch from second base in the first inning against Auburn, Thursday, May 11, 2017, at LSU's Alex Box Stadium in Baton Rouge, La.

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK

Nick Coomes insisted the pain was not too much to deal with last season, but it is hard to fathom how.

Just listen to him describe the cam lesion that was surgically removed last summer.

Put simply, the cam lesion was an extra bone growth on the ball of his hip. The pain he was feeling, the pain that was not enough to force him out of the lineup, was the growth tearing into his labrum.

To illustrate what was happening to his hip last season — and, remember, Coomes played in 46 games, with 37 starts — he held up two fingers, then stuck another through them.

“Pretty much every time I was in a catcher’s squat, it would split my labrum,” Coomes said.

But now? Coomes is healthy this season for the first time in an LSU uniform.

And a healthy Coomes is impressing.

“Had Nick Coomes been out there all fall playing the way he looks in this early part of the preseason ... it would have been a much closer competition for the starting (catcher) job,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said.

Though that job is locked down by Hunter Feduccia, Coomes may get his chance this weekend anyway, as Feduccia has been nursing a broken left hand.

“You’ve just got to pick up the slack and fill in ... do the best that I can and make the most of my opportunity,” Coomes said. “Maybe if I play well and continue playing well, I’ll have a spot for more playing time.”

He came to LSU as a catcher and corner infielder, but his hip injury last season relegated him to playing first base almost exclusively.

“It definitely restricted me,” Coomes said of the injury.

He held his own there, committing just three errors over the first 71 games of the LSU season before committing a pair of costly errors in the final game of the season.

He mainly found his way into the lineup because of his bat. He tailed off a bit toward the end of the season but still finished the year with a robust .303 average and 24 RBIs.

Coomes is eager to see what he can do with a healthy hip. He remembered times last season when he would take batting practice and limp back to the dugout.

“Now that it’s healthy, my entire game should be better,” Coomes said.

He never considered sitting out last season to get the cam lesion repaired, saying that it “wasn’t a torn ACL” and that he could play through the pain.

Some of the symptoms first appeared during his time at LSU-Eunice, but they weren't diagnosed until he got to LSU. Coomes received what he called a “therapeutic shot” once every four weeks to help him deal with the injury last season.

After playing with the injury, he underwent surgery in the summer, forcing him to miss almost the entire fall practice calendar at LSU.

“It was miserable,” said Coomes, who knows how much stock Mainieri puts in competition at fall practice.

But now? Now that he does not have to grit his teeth and play through the pain of a bone tearing into his labrum?

Missing the fall was totally worth it.

“It’s nice being able to get back there and compete a little bit and not have to worry about being in pain later that night,” Coomes said.

Follow Luke Johnson on Twitter, @ByLukeJohnson.