Paul Mainieri meets ‘close’ friend, former UNO teammate Tim Jamieson when LSU meets Missouri _lowres

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- LSU baseball head coach Paul Mainieri laughs off a joke by one of his players during hitting practice, Thursday, Feb. 12, 2015, at LSU's Alex Box Stadium in Baton Rouge.

Paul Mainieri, the phone nestled against his right ear, paced around Skip Bertman Field on Thursday afternoon.

On the other line: Missouri coach Tim Jamieson.

“We’re very good friends, very close,” Mainieri said.

The two former college teammates will face off against each other when top-ranked LSU (40-8, 16-7 Southeastern) and Missouri (28-21, 14-10) meet in a three-game series starting Friday at Alex Box Stadium.

Jamieson and Mainieri were teammates for two seasons at the University of New Orleans in the 1970s. They’ve met on the field five times as coaches. They split a pair of games against one another while Mainieri coached at Notre Dame, and LSU swept Missouri in Columbia, Missouri, in 2013.

“Tim grew up the son of a coach as I did. We had some commonalities. Very close friends. Very close teammates,” Mainieri said of Jamieson. “I’ve followed Tim’s career and rooted for him and wanted the best for him.”

Jamieson spent several years as an assistant at UNO, helping guide the Privateers to four NCAA regional appearances in the 1980s and a spot in the 1984 College World Series.

Jamieson brings a team ranked as high as No. 21 in the nation to Baton Rouge for the first time since Missouri joined the SEC in 2013. The Midwestern Tigers lean heavily on a trio of starting pitchers. None of the three righties have an ERA of worse than 3.69.

Peter Fairbanks, Tanner Houck and Reggie McClain combine for 205 strikeouts and 44 walks in 227.1 innings on the mound.

New look

Alex Box Stadium looks good as new.

New foul poles were installed and the lining on the batter’s eye was replaced Thursday – areas damaged by a severe thunderstorm that swept through Baton Rouge more than a week ago.

Permanent foul poles replaced temporary, shorter poles. The storm downed the two foul poles. The batter’s eye, ripped by the storm, received a fresh black lining, too.

Stevenson: 100 percent Friday

Center fielder Andrew Stevenson, recovering from a hamstring injury, is on track to play Friday in the series opener against Missouri, Mainieri said.

The coach said Stevenson ran full speed for a short period of time Thursday and felt no pain.

“My assumption is he’ll be 100 percent when we go tomorrow,” Mainieri said.

Three on Golden Spikes

Catcher Kade Scivicque, shortstop Alex Bregman and pitcher Alex Lange have been named to the 30-player USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award watch list.

The announcement of the list continues the journey to naming the top amateur baseball player in the country in a presentation on June 23 in Los Angeles. The watch list will continue to be a “rolling” list until May 27 - when the semifinalists for the award are announced.

LSU has more players than any other team on the current watch list.

Latz to rehab from home

Freshman pitcher Jake Latz will return home to Chicago after LSU’s game Tuesday against UNO, where he’ll continue his recovery from a stress reaction in his elbow that forced him to miss his rookie season.

He’ll keep LSU coaches updated on his progress on the rehabilitation.

“When he’s ready to pitch, he’s going to tell us, and we’ll get him somewhere in the summer (to pitch),” Mainieri said. “There’s no guarantee of that. We’re going to let him tell us when he’s ready to go.”

Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter @DellengerAdv.