Newman out of starter race, Tigers’ No. 2 in USA Today poll, practice moves indoors

Sophomore pitcher Hunter Newman is out of the competition to be one of LSU’s starting weekend pitchers, coach Paul Mainieri said Wednesday.

Hunter Newman is out of the starting pitcher race. (Patrick Dennis | The Advocate)

Hunter Newman is out of the starting pitcher race. (Patrick Dennis | The Advocate)

Newman is suffering from a sore throwing shoulder and is “a ways away” from being able to throw in a game, the coach said. The injury removes the Georgia native from the race to be LSU’s No. 2 or No. 3 starter. Newman appeared in 13 games last season and finished with a 2.55 ERA.

“This pretty much knocks him out of the mix,” Mainieri said. “There’s no way he will be able to develop the endurance enough and I’m concerned about his durability to stay healthy. He’s no longer a candidate to be in the starting rotation.”

Newman, who first suffered the soreness last week while throwing during individual workouts, was one of three pitchers who entered preseason practice as a candidate for the two open starting spots behind ace Aaron Nola.

Junior Cody Glenn and true freshman Jared Poché were the others. Mainieri said junior college transfer Kyle Bouman, a Missouri native, will replace Newman in the competition for the two starting spots.

Mainieri has said that senior Kurt McCune and junior Joe Broussard could eventually get into the mix for a starting spot.

The coach doesn’t plan on deciding upon his top starting pitchers until conference play begins in mid-March. He’ll pitch them in no particular order during the 18-game non-conference season.

In the most recent rankings released Wednesday, LSU was No. 2 in the USA Today coaches preseason poll. Each of the four preseason polls released so far has LSU ranked inside the top 15 – No. 3 (Collegiate Baseball), No. 9 (Baseball America), No. 12 (Perfect Game).

The Tigers were set to conduct its fourth practice of the preseason indoors Wednesday. Baton Rouge is in the midst of a cold spell that blanketed much of the area in ice and freezing temperatures overnight. The high Wednesday was forecast to be 41.

Lows dipped into the teens Tuesday night as a wintry mix fell on southeastern Louisiana.

The first icy blast hit last Friday, forcing the team to push back the start of preseason practice to Saturday. The team was off Tuesday.

“I thought I’d seen it all on Friday,” Mainieri said Wednesday. “Then these last two days… Boy oh boy.”

All of LSU’s players were accounted for at Wednesday’s practice, the coach said. Pitchers planned to throw in the indoor facility and hitters were set to take batting practice in the indoor cages.

“We’re right on target. It’s just a little bump in the road for us,” Mainieri said of the recent weather.

Mainieri suggested for a second time this week that freshman pitcher Christian Pelaez is likely to miss the season. He will begin rehab soon for a lingering shoulder injury. Mainieri said he’s “probably leaning” toward redshirting Pelaez, a Miami native.