Reinforcements won’t be charging over the hill as LSU heads to the Southeastern Conference Tournament on Monday having work to do if it wants to secure an NCAA Tournament bid.
LSU is shutting down infielder Josh Smith for the remainder of the season, LSU coach Paul Mainieri confirmed on Sunday night. The back injury he’s dealt with since opening weekend allowed him to play in just six games during his sophomore season.
The Tigers had hope even as recently as this weekend that Smith still might be able to return for the postseason. He stayed in Baton Rouge to continue his work as LSU went to Auburn, but discomfort felt while taking batting practice was the final push LSU needed to pull the plug on hopes he’d still make it back.
Smith, LSU’s opening day shortstop, was diagnosed with a stress reaction in his back three games into the season. He spent two months on the shelf before returning against Lamar on April 24. The sophomore played two games against Ole Miss that weekend before being taken out of the game and he hasn’t played since.
Freshman Hal Hughes has started every game in Smith’s play at shortstop since he went down the first time. He made his April return at third base, where he’d started last season, and Jake Slaughter has played well in his stead since he re-aggravated the back injury.
Since Smith played after the halfway point of the season, he’s not eligible for a medical redshirt, Mainieri explained. The coach said LSU may not have even applied for one anyway since the belief is Smith will sign professionally once he’s eligible for the MLB Draft.
LSU departs for Hoover on Monday afternoon as the No. 8 seed and will face No. 9 seed Mississippi State in a single-elimination game at 4:30 p.m. The winner advances to face No. 1 seed Florida.
— Herb Vincent (@SECherbvin) May 20, 2018