Progressing well enough to warrant a spot on LSU’s travel roster, Jake Latz boarded a bus bound for Auburn on Thursday with sights set on making his collegiate debut in two weeks.
Like he did last week when he met his team in College Station, Texas, on spring break, Latz will throw a bullpen session Saturday at Plainsman Park, and coach Paul Mainieri said if it goes well, the left-hander will face live hitters next week.
“If everything continues to go well, then he’ll be pitching in a game the following week — either (against) McNeese or Grambling,” Mainieri said. “We’re close enough to him getting in the games that I think it’s important that he be with us this weekend and be able to work with the pitching coach under the supervision of the trainer, with a real catcher. We can control how many pitches he throws and with what intensity and those kinds of things.”
Latz, whose family now lives in Texas, was not on the team’s active roster against Texas A&M but met the Tigers in College Station to throw the bullpen. He’ll be permitted to dress out and be in the dugout against Auburn.
Mainieri said the bullpens at Plainsman Park, located beyond the outfield wall, are not conducive to housing catchers that may also be in the LSU lineup.
And with the possibility of all three catchers — Mike Papierski, Jordan Romero and Bryce Jordan — being in the lineup at the same time, Mainieri said he brought bullpen catcher Trent Forshag on his second straight road trip so he could catch Latz’s bullpen and warm up relief pitchers.
Bryce Adams, Cody Ducote, Hunter Devall, Collin Strall, Riley Smith and O’Neal Lochridge did not make the trip.
Mainieri mum at third
Mainieri was adamant Thursday that “something has to be done” about LSU’s recent lackluster play at third base.
But he wasn’t ready to reveal just what he planned to do.
Mainieri said he “has thoughts” about his third base plans this weekend, but wouldn’t render a final decision until his team practiced Thursday night at Plainsman Park.
Greg Deichmann, who is riding an eight-game hitting streak and has displayed LSU’s most consistent power bat in SEC play, made two errors in his past five starts at third.
Freshman Chris Reid, a “short-term replacement” who started all three games against Alabama, was inserted in place of Deichmann in the eighth inning of Tuesday’s 7-1 loss to Tulane. Trey Dawson, the team’s opening night shortstop, has also worked at third base.
“Quite frankly, (Deichmann) had a handful of misplays that hurt us. ... We’ve had some other misplays,” Mainieri said. “I’ve always been a big advocate of defense because I think if you’re going to pitch well, it means you have to play good defense. I think something has to be done, but I’m not ready to divulge exactly what we’re going to do yet.”
Follow Chandler Rome on Twitter, @Chandler_Rome.