LSU packed 10 days worth of clothing for a trip it hopes lasts three days.
A new Southeastern Conference rule put in place for this season dictates that, for the final regular-season weekend, teams can take advantage of a fourth day to get in all three games of a series.
“If anybody is fighting for seeding or championships and you can’t complete the series by Saturday, you have to stay over and complete the series on Sunday,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said.
With poor weather in the forecast for its series against Auburn, LSU could potentially play the finale Sunday — an option that was not available in years past. If that happens, LSU will travel straight to Hoover, Alabama, for the conference tournament.
Complicating matters is the television schedule.
The first two games are penciled in to be broadcast on ESPNU and the SEC Network, respectively, meaning there is no time flexibility to fit the games in around the weather.
The uncertain duration of LSU’s stay in Alabama will not affect its roster decisions, though.
Teams are allowed to bring 30 players to the SEC tournament, compared to 27 players for regular-season games. LSU has a plan in place to bring reinforcements, even if it decides to stay in place.
“If we come back, then if we want to add people to the roster we can take them back with us on Monday,” Mainieri said.
“If we just stay there, then we’re going to bring a van. Our equipment manager Matt Montgomery will be driving an equipment van and can bring the additional players if we so desire.”
One player who is not making the trip to Auburn is sophomore infielder Josh Smith, who is not yet ready to return to the field after his most recent flare-up of a back injury that has cost him most of the season.
Mainieri did not say whether there is a chance Smith could participate in the SEC tournament.
They were chanting his name.
TBA for Saturday
For now, LSU is not announcing a starter for Saturday’s regular-season finale. But that could change by Thursday.
Freshman right-hander AJ Labas, who missed last week’s start with soreness in his throwing shoulder, threw after the team’s arrival in Auburn.
If he is pain-free Thursday, he would slide into the starting rotation Saturday.
“It’s been treated all week,” Mainieri said Wednesday before boarding a bus for Auburn. “It feels better, but he hasn’t picked up a baseball since last Saturday. So I don’t know what his situation is yet.”
The pain first cropped up last Tuesday. After a couple days rest, Labas tried throwing again Saturday and the pain returned after he threw a breaking ball.
“I felt fine throwing, then I threw a slider and it flared up again,” Labas said. “It was pretty frustrating because I thought I was going to be able to pitch on Sunday.
“It was a little sharp pain, it wasn’t nothing major.”
Nick Storz’s freshman season has come to an end.
Junior pitcher Caleb Gilbert was LSU’s representative on the SEC’s community service team, which highlights the contributions of one player from each league school for his efforts in the community.
As a youngster, Caleb Gilbert’s signature look on a baseball field was pure imitation. His favorite big-time ballplayer routinely wore his soc…
Gilbert donates his time to several local organizations, including the Live 2 Play program at the Baton Rogue YMCA, in which he volunteers to play sports with children from underprivileged communities in Baton Rouge.
Cabrera to Team USA?
Wednesday, Mainieri offered a hint of which one of his players might join him on the Collegiate National Team this summer, which the LSU coach will manage.
“If he keeps going along this kind of route, (Daniel Cabrera) has a good chance to maybe make the USA team this summer and go on and have a stellar career here at LSU,” Mainieri said.
Cabrera leads LSU in home runs (eight) and RBIs (46) this season, and a recent hot streak at the plate has raised his batting average to .337.
So far, seven players have publicly accepted invitations to play for Mainieri on the Collegiate National Team this summer.