By JAMES MORAN | Tiger Rag Associate Editor
Greg Deichmann probably would’ve made for an imposing hockey tough guy had he ever decided to trade in his neon green bat and spikes for a curved stick and skates.
LSU coach Paul Mainieri announced his slugger will indeed be in Friday’s Opening Night lineup, taking the field one week removed from suffering three facial fractures as the result a hit by pitch. He’ll bat cleanup and play right field, Mainieri said.
Deichmann took batting practice without setback Wednesday and is scheduled to hit in a simulated game following practice Thursday.
“What I want to do is get Greg right back on the horse to make sure there’s no hesitation or reservation on his part,” Mainieri said. “I don’t anticipate there will be one iota of that. In fact, I told him we ought to ease him back in slowly and I thought he was going to rip my head off.”
Safe to say the gradual approach was the last thing Deichmann wanted to do. He’d spent almost all of his freshman season on the bench before leading the Tigers in home runs and runs batted in 2016. The lefty-swinger didn’t turn down pro ball and the Minnesota Twins to sit out on Opening Night.
“It’s going to take a lot more than this to keep me out of the lineup” Deichmann said.
Deichmann drove to Lafayette Thursday morning to have the protective mask now attached to his batting helmet cleared by a doctor. It’s a custom made mask not form fitted to his helmet.
Having taken batting practice with it on, Deichmann expressed confidence the extra hardware didn’t impede his vision or obstruct his line of sight. He won’t need to wear additional protection while playing right field.
The injury occurred when a pitch from Blair Frederick hit Deichmann under the ear flap of his helmet during a scrimmage last Friday.
“Immediately I felt it in my jaw and I really felt it in my cheek,” Deichmann recounted. “Didn’t really know what happened. Went in the training room and there’s a dent right on the side of my face because the bone caved in. So I had a nice dent there.”
From there he was sent to the emergency room. A scan revealed three fractures of his zygomatic bone, and though the damage was entirely cosmetic — he could’ve lived a normal healthy life without it, in fact — Deichmann underwent facial surgery early Sunday morning once the swelling went down.
The doctor made an incision about his ear — there was a white bandage visible on the side of his head Thursday — and “popped” the bone out. The procedure took about an hour, and Deichmann estimates he arrived in New Orleans around 7 a.m. and made it home by noon.
Deichmann spoke to Mainieri not long after waking up from the anesthesia. From the time he sat on the trainer’s table last Friday night, he remained adamant that he was going to play against Air Force.
“My biggest thing was that I was going to play on Opening Night,” Deichmann said. “I told my dad ‘I’ll live with a dent in the side of my face. I don’t care, but I’m not missing Friday night.’”
That’s good news for an LSU club that’s counting on him to provide a consistent power threat in the heart of its lineup. With Bryce Jordan out for the season (torn ACL) and Jordan Romero ruled out for this weekend (ankle), nobody else on the roster hit more than five home runs last season.
Deichmann hit 11 home runs last season. With Jordan and Romero out, all of the other LSU players available for this weekend combined for 14.