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LSU freshman right handed pitcher Cole Henry (18) and LSU freshman Jaden Hill (44) speak on the field during practice, Thursday, January 31, 2019 at LSU's Alex Box Stadium in Baton Rouge, La.

Coach Paul Mainieri expressed optimism for injured freshmen Cole Henry and Jaden Hill, saying they might pitch in the Southeastern Conference tournament next week.

Both threw bullpens this week without pain, and Mainieri liked their performances. They will each throw simulated games this weekend as one of the last steps before they return to the field.

“We’ve jumped the first hurdles,” pitching coach Alan Dunn said. “I’m encouraged. I’m very encouraged. We’ll go from there.”

The return of Henry and Hill would help a thin LSU pitching staff as the Tigers try to make a postseason run.

Henry established himself as LSU’s ace before he developed soreness in his right elbow. Hill pitched in the weekend rotation for two weeks and earned conference honors. Then he strained a ligament in his right elbow, keeping him out for almost three months.

Though Henry will miss a fourth straight start against Auburn this weekend, he threw a bullpen session on Wednesday without pain. Mainieri said Henry was “a little rusty,” but his fastball impressed Mainieri.

“If everything goes well,” Mainieri said, “there's a strong possibility we can see him do something in Hoover.”

Meanwhile, Hill tossed a bullpen on Tuesday. Mainieri thought he looked good. Hill, who has not pitched since February, might appear in the conference tournament if he continues to show progress.

Follow Wilson Alexander on Twitter, @whalexander_.