The LSU baseball team will be keeping a close eye on weather forecasts this week — maybe with a few sets of fingers crossed as it does so.
“I’m really concerned about the weather,” coach Paul Mainieri said. “The forecast is not so great the whole week.”
As of Wednesday morning, the National Weather Service calls for a 60 percent chance of storms Friday and Saturday. Thunderstorms are also likely Sunday.
Because of rain in the area Tuesday, the Tigers were forced to practice indoors. Players were instructed not to stray too far from their phones Wednesday; they are on call in case there’s a break in the rainy weather.
“I told them to be flexible, because I’m going to text you whenever we get a window to get out there and practice,” Mainieri said. “We’re going to go even if it’s 8 o’clock at night.”
Said senior pitcher Jared Poché: “Hopefully the field drains and we can get on the field a couple times this week, get our work in and get ready for Friday.”
One thing working in LSU’s favor: It only has one game scheduled to be televised — Friday’s 2:30 p.m. opener against Texas Southern — meaning it's not beholden to a TV schedule for the rest of the weekend.
As regional host, LSU gets to pick which time slot it plays in for its first game, and Mainieri said situations like these are why he always opts to play the early game — even if it means a smaller crowd on hand.
“It’s the only day where we can say as the host that we want to play at this time,” Mainieri said. “After the games begin, you play depending on whether you won or lost. So Saturday or Sunday, we could end up having to wait out another game to be completed before our game can even start. ...
“I figure, the first day? Let’s get it out of the way. If the game is delayed, it’s only delayed because of the weather and, as soon as the weather breaks, we’re able to play instead of waiting for another game to be completed.”
Summer league assignments
Two Tigers will soon begin playing in summer leagues as LSU begins its NCAA postseason push with a shortened roster, and everyone else now knows where he's headed at the end of the season.
Freshman first baseman Mason Templet has departed to play with the Danville Dans in the wood bat Prospect League. Freshman lefthander Blair Frederick is set to join the New Orleans Boosters of the All-American Amateur Baseball Association “at least to start the summer,” Mainieri said.
Though the assignments are not yet official, Mainieri shared where the rest of his roster is intending to play this summer.
Antoine Duplantis, Josh Smith, Beau Jordan, Matthew Beck, Zack Hess, Jake Slaughter and Caleb Gilbert are slated to play in the prestigious Cape Cod League. Nick Coomes, Nick Bush, Rankin Woley and Zach Watson will be headed to the Northwoods League. Chris Reid will join Templet in the Prospect League, and Austin Bain will play for the Acadiana Cane Cutters of the Texas Collegiate League.
Mainieri said junior righthander Hunter Kiel is preparing for the MLB draft instead of joining a summer league team; he indicated he will not return to LSU for his senior season.
Not gonna happen
A few weeks ago, Bryce Jordan took some hacks with his teammates in the batting cages, and there was hope that he might be able to rejoin the team for its postseason push after tearing his ACL in February.
That hinged on his ability to run — a long shot, considering he was less than four months removed from surgery. And Mainieri all but confirmed this week that Jordan would not be able to contribute.
“He was pushing it a little bit, and his hamstring got a little sore,” Mainieri said. “I don’t think there’s a chance of him playing this year.”
It saved Mainieri from having to make a difficult decision. If Jordan returns, he would spend a year of eligibility — no matter how long LSU's postseason lasts. Instead, he will have two years of eligibility remaining.