Two more players leave the roster; Season begins Feb. 17
By JAMES MORAN
Tiger Rag Associate Editor
Two more players have left the LSU baseball program — but neither of them are going far.
Outfielder Cody Ducote has left the program but will remain at LSU to pursue his degree, according to LSU’s official roster release Wednesday. Catcher Trent Forshag has become a member of the team’s equipment staff.
Paul Mainieri provided some context in a phone interview with Tiger Rag. By obtaining a degree from LSU while sitting out the season, Ducote would himself to play right away at the school of his choosing as a graduate transfer for the 2017-18 season. He has one year of NCAA eligibility remaining.
“He’ll go to a program that’s maybe a better fit for him where get a chance to play,” Mainieri said.
Recruited as a right-handed bat with power from Delgado, Ducote recorded just one hit in six at-bats across five games played after spending most of the season recovering from a severe cut to his hand/wrist that required surgery.
Even once he got healthy, Ducote found himself looking up the depth chart at starting corner outfielders Antoine Duplantis and Beau Jordan, both of whom return for 2017, as well as rising sophomores Brody Wofford and Brennan Breaux. He was left off LSU’s postseason roster and spent his summer playing for the Palm Springs Power in the Southern California League, where he hit .373 in 75 at-bats.
Forshag, utilized primarily as a bullpen catcher behind returning backstops Mike Papierski and Jordan Romero, went 1-for-7 and appeared in 10 games last season.
They join left-handed pitcher Jake Latz (transferred to Kent State), infielder Trey Dawson (transferred to Chipola JC) and third baseman O’Neal Lochridge (medically disqualified due to a serious back injury) as offseason departures.
Mainieri provided updates on pitchers Alden Cartwright and Nick Bush, both of whom are recovering from Tommy John surgeries.
The coach expressed concern as to whether Cartwright, who underwent surgery in April, will be able to pitch for LSU at all this coming season.
“I’m concerned whether or not he’ll be ready to pitch at all for us in the next year,” Mainieri said. “We’ll just have to keep monitoring his progress, but it usually takes about a year before a pitcher can return from that Tommy John Surgery, and that’s not even at the level they’re used to be pitching at.”
LSU hasn’t yet submitted paperwork for Cartwright to receiver a medical redshirt for last season — he fits the NCAA criteria for one. Mainieri said LSU still plans to apply for one on Cartwright’s behalf, but the timing will depend on whether or not he’s able to return this season.
“If he doesn’t play this year, that’ll be a medical redshirt,” Mainieri explained. “So really, in order to take advantage of the medical redshirt last year, he would then need to file an appeal for six years to get his full four years in. That’s why we’re kind of waiting to see what happens with him for this year.”
Bush is “a lot further ahead” in terms of rehab, Mainieri said, as the lefty underwent his procedure last fall. He won’t be ready to pitch competitively during the six-week fall practice period, which begins on Sept. 25, but will take part in a throwing program ahead of making a full return.
“I expect him to be able to contribute to the team next spring,” Mainieri said, “but just not be part of it in the fall.”
– Mainieri will see a familiar foe when LSU opens up the season on Feb. 17 as Air Force, where he coached from 1989-1994, comes to Alex Box Stadium for a three game series.
The Falcons are coached by Mike Kazlausky, who both pitched and coached under Mainieri during the LSU skipper’s time in Colorado Springs. The two have remained close in the years since.
“He’s like my fifth child,” Mainieri joked.
The two sides were originally scheduled to play twice, with Southern coming to the Box on Saturday night, but Southern had to cancel out of that game due to a scheduling conflict, Mainieri said.
LSU’s midweek schedule is booked solid already, Mainieri said, meaning the two cross-town schools won’t play this season.
– LSU’s second appearance at the Houston College Classic won’t be the Tigers’ only road trip down I-10 West.
After facing TCU, Baylor and Texas Tech in Houston, LSU will visit McNeese State for a midweek contest three days later. The Cowboys, which won a 7-0 decision at the Box last season, it’s first over LSU since 2000, will make a return trip on May 9.
“That’s going to be a testing period of time,” Mainieri said. “McNeese beat us pretty handily last year, and now we’ll be going right back on the road after playing two teams who were in the College World Series the weekend before. So it’ll be a challenge, but I think we’ve got an experienced team, and I want to give these guys as many challenges as I can.”
– Former assistant Will Davis, now the head coach at Lamar, will make his first return to Alex Box Stadium on April 18. Lamar beat LSU 12-11 in Beaumont early last season.
– The Southern Conference slate begins with a visit from Georgia on March 17 and concludes with a visit to Mississippi State. May 20 is the final day of the regular season.