LSU freshman first baseman Gavin Dugas hurt his thumb on Sunday against Bryant. Though it's waiting on confirmation, LSU believes he will miss eight weeks with a torn ligament.
Coach Paul Mainieri said Dugas hurt his thumb when he slid headfirst into second base during the first inning against Bryant. Dugas played the rest of the game, which was his first start.
LSU didn't know about the injury until Tuesday. It initially thought Dugas sprained his thumb. The team sent him to a doctor Wednesday afternoon before the Tigers beat Southern. Suspecting a torn ligament, the doctor performed an MRI.
Mainieri said Wednesday night the doctor believes after reviewing the results of the test Dugas tore the ligament. A radiologist will look at the MRI results to give a second opinion.
A torn ligament will require surgery, preventing Dugas from playing for as many as eight weeks.
"We haven't heard back from the other doctor yet," Mainieri said Wednesday night. "I'd say it's 98 percent sure."
LSU baseball is off to a 7-0 start with Southern coming to town Wednesday night.
Dugas, who hurt the same thumb sliding headfirst his sophomore year of high school, had asserted himself as a strong candidate to start at first base.
LSU opened the season with freshmen Cade Beloso and Drew Bianco as its primary options at first base, but Dugas positioned himself to start more games because of his performance against Bryant.
Dugas hit an RBI single his first at-bat, but he tried to stretch the hit into a double, hurting his hand on the slide. Dugas finished the game 1 for 2, walking twice, to raise his average to .600 (3 for 5) this season with two RBIs.
“I thought what Dugas did today was pretty special,” Mainieri said after the game.
Dugas’ injury puts a wrinkle into LSU’s plans at first base, a position that has fluctuated more than any other since the season began.
LSU pitcher Eric Walker will make his first start since an injury forced him out of the 2017 College World Series, a span of 20 months, when the No. 1 Tigers host South Alabama.
Bianco and Beloso have each started three games. Bianco, who’s 2 for 15, hasn’t started since LSU’s fourth game. Beloso hit a three-run home run to beat Army. He started Wednesday’s game against Southern and hit another three-run home run.
Mainieri said he will also look at playing catcher Saul Garza at first base. Garza tore his meniscus last October. He’s on track to begin squatting next week — after LSU plays Texas — but he won’t catch until late March. He has spent the beginning of the season at designated hitter.
Using Garza at first base would provide Mainieri flexibility with his lineup and depth at first base.
“Maybe I'm just a dinosaur, but I like guys who drive in runs,” Mainieri said of what he’s looking for in a first baseman. “That's we need. We need somebody who's going to be an RBI machine, who's going to be a clutch hitter.”