HOOVER, Alabama — Mired in an 0-for-17 slump, Jordan Romero got a night off Wednesday when LSU faced No. 4 seed Florida in the SEC tournament, sitting in favor of Michael Papierski.
Romero, who took hold as the Tigers’ starting catcher following a breakout series at Ole Miss in late April, struck out twice in the Tigers’ 5-4 opening-round win against Tennessee before Papierski pinch hit for him in the seventh.
Tennessee also stole six bases against the Tigers while Romero was behind the plate, though LSU coach Paul Mainieri attributed that, partly, to pitchers not holding runners on adequately.
LSU prepared for 6-foot-7 Florida southpaw A.J. Puk with a reincarnate of another lanky lefty.
Joe McCarthy, a veteran student manager who was honored in the Tigers’ senior day ceremonies last Friday against Florida, threw batting practice to all of the LSU starters at Hoover High School two hours before the game.
McCarthy, a Brother Martin graduate, has history of aiding in the Tigers’ approach against left-handed pitching. He received much praise after LSU’s 6-3 victory against Louisiana Tech and Bulldogs pitcher Tyler Clancy earlier in the season.
Clancy entered the March 8 game against LSU with a 1.00 ERA in three starts against then-nationally ranked competition. LSU tagged him for five hits — the most he’d allowed all season — by the third inning, including four RBI doubles.
“(McCarthy)’s like Randy Johnson when he throws BP,” said Beau Jordan, who had an RBI double off Clancy. “He gets us ready more than anybody. He chunks. He cuts some of his pitches and gets on top of it like a pitcher. It’s harder facing him than some of the lefties we face.”
Well, maybe not this one. Puk is widely regarded as a top-10 pick in this June’s MLB draft, and some projections place him as the No. 1 overall pick.
Owls and possums
The story of LSU’s rally possum, which wandered onto the Alex Box Stadium field May 7 and has since inspired a rabid, nationwide reaction, took another quirky turn Wednesday.
Before the Tigers’ game against No. 1 Florida, SEC Network cameras caught a stuffed owl in the Gators’ dugout, and the program’s official Twitter account warned the “Rally Possum” to beware.