LSU Baylor Baseball

LSU starting pitcher Landon Marceaux throws during the first inning against Baylor at the Shriners Hospitals for Children College Classic on Saturday in Houston. 

Almost every LSU baseball player — 36 of the 38 — attended practice Wednesday afternoon, signaling coronavirus issues that affected the team around the beginning of preseason practice have dissipated.

Of the two players not at practice, only one, freshman Will Hellmers, wasn’t present because of either a positive test or exposure. Coach Paul Mainieri said Hellmers will leave isolation Friday, one week before LSU’s season opener against Air Force.

“As long as he passes all the protocols with the doctors,” Mainieri said Thursday, “he'll be able to get back into practice but maybe not full speed yet.”

Mainieri said he held out the other absent player, junior center fielder Giovanni DiGiacomo, because of a "slight tweak in his hip." Mainieri said he wouldn't have sat DiGiacomo during the season.

Last week, Mainieri indicated four pitchers, including weekend starters AJ Labas and Landon Marceaux, had missed practice because of coronavirus concerns. Without giving specifics, he said “hopefully everybody gets to feeling better soon, if you know what I'm saying, and we can get this behind us.” LSU athletics hasn’t publicly released information about its coronavirus cases, citing student privacy laws, and declined to confirm numbers.

Labas and Marceaux both returned to practice by Monday. They pitched in a scrimmage that day, and Mainieri said they “looked extremely sharp.” Freshman Garrett Edwards, who missed time because of contact tracing, also returned to practice this week.

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Marceaux said Thursday he had tested positive for coronavirus. He didn’t have any symptoms, but he had to spend 10 days isolated in his room, separated from the team as it prepared for the upcoming season.

“It was frustrating for me,” Marceaux said.

Labas, who lives with Marceaux, also quarantined for 10 days. He said he could throw, run and exercise at the field as long as he didn’t interact with other players. The access helped him feel ready to pitch once he returned to practice. He threw three scoreless innings in his first appearance. 

“That was a bonus for me,” Labas said, “just being able to stay in shape and keep my arm in shape and be able to come back and throw like I did in the first scrimmage.” 

Depending on the weather, Mainieri hopes both players can throw again this weekend. He wants to extend their outings, but even if LSU can’t practice, he believes they can pitch opening weekend because of their experience. He thinks Marceaux can last four-to-five innings and Labas can pitch five or six innings.

“If we get rained out and we can't play,” Mainieri said, “they'd be the two guys I would be least concerned about missing some time and being able to be ready to go on opening weekend.”

Email Wilson Alexander at walexander@theadvocate.com