Enough with this small ball stuff. LSU coach Paul Mainieri plans to let his players swing away.
Before the Tigers left for three-game series at Florida on Thursday afternoon, they spoke to reporters. The primary topic of discussion: the team’s hitting skid.
There’s a fix, they all say: be more aggressive. Mainieri took the blame for the hitting woes, saying that he’s somewhat confused his players with a small ball scheme.
It’s time for that to end, the coach said.
“What I’ve done is taken the aggressiveness out of our hitters,” he said. “I think we need to get back to playing … the style of play Paul Mainieri grew up with. And that is to be an aggressive, attacking offense.”
“I think I’ve confused the kids a little bit, trying to make them be very selective at the plate,” the coach continued, “and yet then when we get into clutch situations, we want them to be able to come through and be confident and aggressive and I think that’s a conflict for young kids. They don’t necessarily know how to balance those two ideas together.”
Said Christian Ibarra about the hitting: “Coach talked to us about that, trying to be more aggressive at the plate this weekend.”
More news nuggets from our meeting with Mainieri and players:
- Starting pitcher Kyle Bouman, who badly sprained his ankle last week, remains questionable for this weekend. Bouman threw a bullpen session earlier Thursday and “all went well,” Mainieri said. Mainieri, though, isn’t going as far as to say Bouman will be Sunday’s starter. The coach isn’t sure how his ankle will feel Friday. Will it be sore? And can he field bunts, etc? Those are questions Mainieri is asking.
- Mainieri won’t announce a Sunday starter until after Saturday’s game against Florida. “We’ll see if he’s ready,” Mainieri said. Bouman is on the eligible roster and will travel with the team. He’ll do some agility work in Gainesville on Friday. “Even if he’s 100 percent healthy, he hasn’t pitched in a couple of weeks,” Mainieri said. “We’ll see who’s available.”
- Reliever Alden Cartwright, a Runnels grad, is nearly 100 percent healthy, Mainieri said. He was on the eligible roster Tuesday at Tulane. “I think he’s back to virtually 100 percent,” Mainieri said. Cartwright strained a shoulder muscle in a Game 2 loss at Vanderbilt two weeks ago.
- Florida first baseman Zack Powers has been suspended for four games and will miss this weekend’s series against LSU. The suspension stems from the bench-clearing scuffle the Gators and Florida State were involved in during UF’s win Tuesday night. Powers has started 10 games and is batting .171.
- Mainieri heard and actually saw replays of the the sparking play and the scuffle between the two teams. “It was an awkward play. I don’t know if it’s really crystal clear who was at fault,” Mainieri said.
- Shortstop Alex Bregman, in the midst of the worst slump of his career, has been made off-limits to reporters for at least the next week. It was Mainieri’s idea, he said. Bregman is 4 for his last 29. “Obviously Alex is taking the brunt of it. He’s our leader. He’s our mainstay,” Mainieri said. “The kid right now is feeling the weight of the world on this shoulders. I had several meetings with him yesterday trying to get him back into the right mental approach.”