Hampton, Garza to miss time with back injuries

LSU might have gotten the sweep of UMass Lowell on Sunday, but not without some bad news.

Both outfielder Maurice Hampton Jr. and catcher Saul Garza have picked up back injuries and will be out of the lineup for the near future.

Hampton has a stress reaction and will miss considerable time, but it’s possible he will return before the regular season is over. LSU head coach Paul Mainieri says it’s a similar injury to the one Josh Smith suffered early in the 2018 season.

“I don’t think it’s going to be anything that’s going to hamper his career going forward in football or baseball,” Mainieri said. “He may be back before the year is over but for now he needs rest and rehabilitation.”

Hampton hasn’t played since he pulled up gingerly trying to track down a fly ball against Baylor last Saturday in Houston.

In Friday night’s game against the River Hawks, Saul Garza strained a muscle in his back after swinging at a pitch. His injury is not as severe as Hampton’s, but it is still unclear when exactly he will be able to return. At the soonest, he could be back in the lineup when the Tigers open SEC play on the road in Oxford against Ole Miss next weekend.

“I’m keeping my fingers crossed for the weekend,” Mainieri said. “But we don’t know at this particular time.”

Garza entered the season as the starting catcher, but has since been moved to designated hitter in the wake of freshman Alex Milazzo’s emergence behind the plate.

Either left fielder or designated hitter could be filled by utility player Gavin Dugas. After being hit in the head with a pitch two weeks ago, Dugas returned to the lineup Sunday with a 2 for 4 outing where he hit two home runs in the Tigers’ 6-4 victory over UMass Lowell.

It’s likely that until Garza returns that Dugas will DH and Mitchell Sanford, Wes Toups, or Drew Bianco will man left field. When Garza does come back, he will slide back into DH and Dugas will play left given how the other three outfielders have yet to get it going with the bat. Of the three, only the freshman Toups is batting above .200.

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