LSU coach Paul Mainieri playfully scolded reporters after a question and answer session for not taking full notice of their surroundings, but to be fair, the guy everyone failed to see has a twin brother on the team.
Mainieri pointed his finger toward the batting cage, where for the first time since early February, Bryce Jordan was hacking away with the rest of his teammates.
Jordan, expected to occupy the cleanup spot in the order as LSU’s designated hitter before the season started, tore his ACL February 8, less than 10 days before the season opener.
While he is not ready to contribute yet — he still has not run full speed — Mainieri would not close the book on a potential postseason return.
“I don’t think it’s possible (for him to return for the Southeastern Conference) tournament,” Mainieri said. “So then the question would be, ‘Can he help you win a national championship?’ Do you blow a year of eligibility in what could be one weekend?
“You just don’t know. I’d have to feel confident he would make that kind of an impact.”
Monday’s batting practice session was the first time Jordan had hit a pitch with velocity since his injury. All his work in the batting cages to this point has been hitting soft toss or off a tee.
The time off didn’t appear to bother him.
“He comes in and the first one, he foul tips, the next one he hits a line drive to the right side,” said senior second baseman Cole Freeman. “It’s just like, he hasn’t hit a live pitch, and all of a sudden he’s squaring them up. That’s crazy.”
Jordan called his rehabilitation process “ridiculous,” describing a schedule that includes five rehabilitation sessions per week along with his own individual workouts.
The main issue has been getting strength back in his hamstring and quadriceps muscles. Whether he would be able to return this season depends on whether a doctor clears him.
Jordan said swinging the bat has not bothered him, but running is another question because he has not done it yet. The main hold up is making sure his surgically repaired tendon is able to withstand some athletic maneuvering required on the base paths.
“I’ve been running, I’ve been jogging, it’s just the cutting and trying to round the bag,” Jordan said. “You don’t want it to give out again and set you back.”
Mainieri said he would continue to evaluate the situation, but vowed he would not bring Jordan back into the fold unless he was sure he was ready to take the physical strain.
“The biggest thing is I would never put a kid at a physical risk,” Mainieri said. “That’d be the biggest thing for me. But if he can do it, the doctor clears him, he does well and could make a difference for us, it would have to be something I consider.”
Tigers rise in polls
Few would argue against the idea that LSU played its best baseball of the season in a sweep of Auburn this past weekend, and the victorious Tigers were rewarded for their play in the rankings.
LSU is a consensus top-10 team according to the latest rankings, securing the No. 10 spot in Baseball America and D1 Baseball polls, No. 8 in the Perfect Game rankings and No. 5 in Collegiate Baseball Newspaper rankings.
The Collegiate Baseball ranking gave LSU its first top-five appearance since March 20.
LSU was the biggest riser in several of the rankings released Monday. LSU's biggest jumps came in the Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball Newspaper rankings, jumping five spots in each.
In a related note, Auburn took the biggest tumble in every set of rankings. Auburn dropped nine spots in the Collegiate Baseball and Perfect Game rankings, 11 spots in Baseball America's rankings, and out of the top 25 entirely in D1 Baseball's rankings.
Just two weeks ago, Auburn was the No. 4 team in the Baseball America rankings.
Lange named SEC Pitcher of the Week
After throwing his second career shutout, junior right-hander Alex Lange was named the SEC Pitcher of the Week.
Lange did not walk a batter or allow an Auburn base runner to advance past second base as he struck out nine. It was his second straight complete game, making him the first LSU pitcher to fire back-to-back complete games since Aaron Nola recorded four in a row in 2013.