LSU freshman pitcher Jake Latz to sit fall season with elbow injury _lowres

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- LSU coach Paul Mainieri stands with his son Tommy, left, in front of the dugout before the Tigers' game against Houston on June 2 at Alex Box Stadium.

The injury bug has a taste for LSU’s pitching staff.

Freshman left-handed pitcher Jake Latz will be out for the rest of the fall season with a stress reaction in his throwing elbow, coach Paul Mainieri said Friday.

Latz threw two innings in his first outing of the fall and began experiencing elbow soreness. Though initial fears were that he had suffered a ligament injury, further analysis showed the ligament in Latz’s elbow was undamaged, and he simply had a stress reaction.

Mainieri said the injury would take some time to heal, comparing it to a bone bruise. Former Tigers starter Anthony Ranaudo suffered a similar injury during the spring of 2010, Mainieri said.

“We think with rest and three to six weeks (of sitting out), he should be fine and ready to go for the spring, but we’re definitely going to keep him out of fall practice,” Mainieri said.

Latz is one of a handful of highly touted incoming freshman arms who entered fall camp looking to get an early jump in the competition for a weekend rotation slot.

At 6-foot-2 and 185 pounds, Latz was selected in the 11th round of this year’s draft by the Toronto Blue Jays but did not sign; he brings a three-pitch arsenal — fastball, changeup and curveball — to Alex Box Stadium.

Mainieri said Latz was polished before he arrived in Baton Rouge, and he’s not overly concerned about the progression of his young southpaw.

“In a perfect world, it would have been great for him to pitch five or six times for two innings at a time and work with (pitching coach) Alan Dunn and kind of put the finishing touches in before the spring,” Mainieri said. “I’ve seen him throw, and he’s got a lot of confidence in his breaking ball and his changeup. I’m really not worried about him.”

Godfrey, Lang developing changeups

Even with the loss of Latz, Mainieri still has plenty of talent to work with on the mound this fall, including right-handed rookies Jake Godfrey and Alex Lange.

Mainieri compared Lange to former Tigers starter Kevin Gausman.

“He can pitch pretty consistently at 93 to 94 miles per hour,” Mainieri said. “He’s got a good overhand curveball, and (Dunn) is really working with him on his changeup.”

He noted that Godfrey sits at 92 mph with a sinker, and Dunn has begun working on developing the New Lenox, Illinois, native’s changeup.

“If you want to be a starting pitcher in this league, you really have to have three great pitches,” Mainieri said. “The changeup is a key pitch because it’s such a change of speed from the hard throwers.”

Zardon impressing at hot corner

Mainieri said he is impressed with sophomore infielder Danny Zardon, who has stroked four home runs in fall camp and made a diving play at the third base during Thursday night’s scrimmage.

“The play Danny made (Thursday) showed that he has quick reactions and the ability to make better-than-average plays,” Mainieri said. “If he can keep this going, it would be a really big thing for our team if he could solidify third base in the wake of losing (Christian) Ibarra.”

Zardon is competing for the starting spot at third with freshman Greg Deichmann and senior Conner Hale, who’s expected to see time on the right side of the infield as well.

Bouman returns from concussion

Senior southpaw Kyle Bouman returned to the mound this week after suffering a concussion off the diamond.

Bouman worked in an intrasquad outing, and Mainieri said there’s still plenty of rust to shake off for the left-hander, who started 11 games last season.

“He looked like he hadn’t done anything in three weeks,” Mainieri said.