Coach Paul Mainieri set LSU’s opening day lineup, but he expects it will change throughout the first series and further into the season as LSU searches for its best combination of players.
With LSU preparing to face a left-handed pitcher on Friday night inside Alex Box Stadium, the Tigers will start six right-handed batters, including freshman second baseman Cade Doughty and designated hitter Hayden Travinski. The lineup uses LSU’s best offensive outfield.
“You can only put nine names in the lineup,” Mainieri said. “We're trying to establish roles for each and every one of them.”
The Tigers will start at least 12 players during the series against Indiana. Though they did not appear in the initial starting lineup, freshman catcher Alex Milazzo and sophomore center fielder Giovanni DiGiacomo will start on Saturday afternoon. Freshman outfielder Wes Toups will start one of the games.
This season, LSU had to replace the majority of its starting lineup. It has left spots open for competition all over the field, and though the Tigers will soon play their first game, the process of finding LSU’s best players will not end.
“We're going to try some different combinations over the first couple of weeks,” Mainieri said. “We'll go from there.”
Ed Orgeron will throw the first pitch before LSU baseball begins its season on Friday night inside Alex Box Stadium.
Below, see the entire starting lineup for Friday night's game with analysis of each player.
1. Daniel Cabrera, CF, Jr.
Cabrera slumped during his sophomore season, but he still has All-American potential. Though he batted .284 last year, the left-handed hitter possesses a deeper understanding of his game. He will shift to right field with DiGiacomo in the lineup.
2. Cade Doughty, 2B, Fr.
Though LSU wants Doughty to improve his defense, the freshman's hitting ability earned him early playing time. Doughty, who batted .505 his senior year of high school, sprays line drives all over the field.
3. Zack Mathis, 3B, Jr.
This transfer from San Joaquin Delta College emerged as a starter during fall practice. Mathis can play any infield position, but he will begin the season at third base. Mathis has power and uses the entire field.
4. Saul Garza, C, Jr.
No one hit better than Garza the last month of the 2019 season. He raised his batting average to .303, and though Garza missed fall practice after hand surgery, he returns as the starting catcher.
5. Cade Beloso, 1B, So.
Beloso struggled some his freshman year, but he ended the season batting .279 with 10 home runs, cementing himself as the first baseman despite shaky defense. LSU needs Beloso to drive in a lot of runs.
6. Gavin Dugas, RF, So.
One of the more improved players since last season, Dugas learned to relax. LSU may play him at second base after the season opener. Dugas earned his spot in the lineup with reliable production during scrimmages.
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7. Hayden Travinski, DH, Fr.
After Travinski missed part of fall practice with a concussion, the freshman showed raw power when he returned to the field. Travinski hit .429 with 12 home runs his senior year of high school.
8. Drew Bianco, LF, So.
LSU moved Bianco to the outfield to let him focus on hitting, and the change resulted in five home runs during fall practice. Bianco will stay in the lineup as long as he hits well.
9. Hal Hughes, SS, Jr.
Hughes has moved back to shortstop, his position freshman year, after playing all over the infield last season. LSU doesn’t expect drastic offensive improvement from the career .201 hitter. His reliable glove earned the starting role.