On this cloudy and cool Monday, we empty our notebook from interviews with coach Paul Mainieri and players.
The news nuggets are below, mostly about pitching, and we follow that with a full, in-depth explanation from Mainieri on what happened in LSU’s three base-running blunders in Sunday’s 2-2 tie with Georgia.
- Kyle Bouman is questionable for this weekend’s series at Florida with a sprained ankle he suffered in Monday’s practice last week. Mainieri said the ankle is still “pretty swollen and discolored.” He threw an extended long catch over the last few days, and the ankle was sore afterward. Bouman began walking Sunday without a noticeable limp. “We’ll just have to play it by ear,” Mainieri said.
- Mainieri is calling his Sunday starter at Florida “TBA.” He has plenty of options, but mention reliever Zac Person as one of them. Person, if he is not used Friday or Saturday in Gainesville, could start Sunday, but nothing has been determined. “Boy, is he throwing the ball great,” Mainieri said of Person. “He’s got some ability to have some endurance.” Person threw 71 pitches over the weekend in relief appearances Friday and Sunday.
- Cody Glenn gets the start in the game at Tulane on Tuesday, and Mainieri will let him go long. Mainieri had thought about starting Hunter Devall, but ultimately decided upon giving Glenn another chance. It might be a final chance. “This is obviously going to be an important game for Cody. We’ve given him a lot of chances and here’s another one,” Mainieri said. “He needs to re-establish himself as a guy we can count on.”
- LSU, down to 11-12 healthy pitchers, has about five or six available for the game at Tulane, Mainieri said. The six include: Glenn, Brady Domangue, Devall, Nate Fury, Kurt McCune and, perhaps, Alden Cartwright, Mainieri said. Cartwright is recovering from a shoulder strain suffered in the series loss at Vanderbilt. He could be available Tuesday, Mainieri said. Cartwright was on the eligible list this weekend, the coach said. He’s been back throwing for a few days.
- Mainieri isn’t sure he’ll keep the batting order we saw Sunday in the game against Georgia. Alex Bregman, in a slump, was moved up from the No. 3 to the No. 2 hole. Sean McMullen moved to the 3 hole, and Mark Laird moved up to leadoff. “He batted 2 hole all summer for the USA Team,” Mainieri said of Bregman. “He handles the bat well. … It’s not like, ‘Gosh, you’ve got to have him in that 3 hole.’ I think McMullen has nine or 10 doubles. You like to have a guy who will drive somebody home from first base in that 3 hole. There’s some thought to doing it that way, keeping it like that. I wouldn’t say for sure.”
- Jared Poche was named the SEC Freshman of the Week. He threw a three-hitter through 8.2 innings in Saturday’s win over Georgia.
And, finally, to the base-running blunders in Sunday’s tie against Georgia. As reporters left the stadium Sunday after interviews, Mainieri began to lecture his team on base-running and the signals involved. We’ll go through each of the three base-running blunders from Sunday following it with Mainieri’s comment on each from Monday’s session.
“We spent a lot of time analyzing those three base-running situations that happened,” Mainieri said. “You could go through an entire season and maybe not see those three things happen again.”
- No. 1, 7th inning, game tied at 2: Mark Laird is on third base with with no outs. Sean McMullen, a lefty, hits into a double play that begins at first base. The first baseman throws to second and the shortstop gets the out at second before tossing back to first for the DP. Laird doesn’t try to come home, something Mainieri said Sunday he should have. Mainieri said that of the three blunders Sunday that this one was the worst.
I go out to talk to McMullen. I’m telling him, ‘They probably think we’re going to safety squeeze here. I want you to know, we’re not safety squeezing. We’re going to drive in this run. But what I do want you to do is pull the ball.’ … I’m telling him, ‘You might not be able to hit it deep enough for him to score from third base so we’ll pull the ball. Even if you hit into a double play, we’ll at least get this go-ahead run in.’
So he absolutely smokes the ball. I think it’s a one-hopper right at the first baseman. I was shocked, as Mark Laird was, that the fielder immediately threw to second base. Why would he not look to home first to try to cut down the go-ahead run? But he fields it so quickly and cleanly that he throws it to second base that it just froze Laird. And I think had he still broke for home plate after freezing as long as he did, the shortstop probably would have thrown directly home and still been able to throw him out.
Where Laird made the mistake was, he should have gone as soon as the first baseman cocked his arm to throw the ball to second. He should have been off enough knowing that the first baseman is not going to throw to third that he would have been able to get a good enough break, but I think the way the play developed, it just shocked him ever so slightly that he hesitated and it kept him from scoring. That was probably the most inexcusable base-running error we had.
- No. 2, 12th inning, game tied at 2, two outs: Christian Ibarra tries to score from second base on Andrew Stevenson’s grounder, which is bobbled by the shortstop. Third base coach Will Davis waved Ibarra home.
You can’t fault Will Davis on this either, because with two outs, especially with a speedy runner, if the throw is in the dirt at first you want to send that runner. It’s like sending him on a hit with two outs. You force them to now make the play at the plate to throw you out.
What happens is, the ball is hit to the shortstop’s right. It’s going to be a fairly close play. Probably going to throw him out (at first), but if the ball is in the dirt or slightly pulls him off the bag, you send your runner.
What happens is the kid drops the ball, so Will is prepared to hold him up. But then what happens is the kid picks the ball up and everything in his body language appears he’s going to throw the ball to first. So now Will makes the correct decision to send him because now I think Stevenson will be safe and it’s worth the gamble with two outs.
What happens is the kid does everything and shows like he’s going to throw to first but changes his mind and decides not to throw to first base. And, of course, Ibarra is dead out at home plate.
- No. 3, 13th and final inning, game tied at 2: Dakota Dean is at third base with one out and doesn’t come home on Sean McMullen’s line drive to short left. Will Davis said, ‘Go.’ But Dean thought he said, ‘No,’ according to Mainieri.
I don’t think it’s for sure that Dean would have been safe anyway. But I still wanted him to go. Two outs in the 13th inning, this is the end of it. You’ve got to make them make a play.
I think what happened is the kid just froze. Will is yelling, ‘Go!’ And the kid’s thinking he’s yelling, ‘No!’ He hasn’t played that much. Our rule among our base-runners is if you’re told to tag that means you’re tagging and going. We don’t bluff as though we’re going to go.
Kid probably is in high school, his coach had him bluff. He just didn’t know to do it. As it turns our, he probably … the way the kid threw the ball from left field to a relay man, they probably still would have time to throw him out. I don’t know if it would have worked out.