Reporters arriving early ahead of LSU’s pre-game practice on Tuesday afternoon were greeting with something of a surprise: Brandt Broussard, bat in hand, ready to step up to the plate.
Wednesday marks the three-week anniversary of Broussard undergoing surgery to fix a broken left thumb. Apparently it’ll also mark his return to action.
The second baseman is set to return to the lineup on Wednesday night as LSU travels to take on Tulane, LSU coach Paul Mainieri announced Tuesday. Provided there’s no last-minute setback, it’ll be a sight for sore eyes for a team that can’t seem to go more than a couple days without suffering another injury.
“If everything continues through the end of practice, he should be able to play against Tulane,” Mainieri said. “That’s a huge boost for us to get him back in the lineup.”
Broussard, who got his cast removed last week, began swinging a bat on Monday. He felt great, so they quickly progressed to hitting off a tee and taking some cuts against Mainieri in the batting cages.
LSU ramped up the intensity Tuesday to see if Broussard was indeed ready to go for live action. He took 30 cuts against Brandon Nowak and Will Reese in a simulate game of sorts before practice and took live ground balls as the rest of the team took BP.
“Nothing hurt, so we progressed to some live at-bats today and didn’t feel any pain there,” Broussard said. “I feel good to go and don’t feel rusty or anything.”
Trainer Cory Couture developed a small piece of equipment that’ll allow Broussard’s thumb some extra support under a glove.
Also, at LSU hitting coach Sean Ochinko’s suggestion, Broussard will use Chris Reid’s glove — it’s more broken in and “floppy” — on Wednesday to help alleviate the stress on said thumb.
“It just keeps my thumb from absorbing too much shock when the ball hits it,” Broussard said of the device Couture rigged up. “It keeps my thumb from bending back and lets me feel confident. My glove is a little firmer and I don’t quite have the grip strength to close it.”
Broussard is LSU’s leading hitter (.363) and was a key cog at the top of the order since being hit by a pitch at Vanderbilt last month. The thumb felt progressively worse through the weekend and an MRI revealed the broken bone.
He’ll slide back in at second base as Austin Bain, LSU’s resident Mr. everything, goes back to first base. Bain said Tuesday that he’ll play wherever he’s asked without any complains.
NOW THE BAD NEWS
It wouldn’t be an LSU media session these days without some new and old injuries to report on. Here’s a running list of the developments and updates Mainieri provided Tuesday.
Caleb Gilbert | Gilbert felt discomfort after his outing on Saturday night and will be out for at least this week, Mainieri said.
Hunter Feduccia | Feduccia felt some discomfort in his hand after a check swing in his final at-bat against Tennessee. He’s not expected to play against Tulane and Nick Coomes will do the catching, Mainieri said, but isn’t expected to miss additional time.
Josh Smith | Smith hasn’t done any baseball activity since suffering a setback last week. His back remains sore, Mainieri said, and LSU has already ruled out him making the trip to South Carolina this week.
Bryce Jordan | Jordan took batting practice Tuesday with a brace on his bruised right knee. Mainieri didn’t have an update on him, but practicing is a positive step either way.
Nick Storz | There’s no tangible update, but Mainieri had this to say: “If he gets back before the SEC tournament, I’ll be happy. If he gets back before that, that’ll be lagniappe as far as I’m concerned.”
WHAT’S THE BUZZ
Mainieri has never been one to let an opportunity to find a rallying cry go by the wayside.
The coach and most of the team took to the practice field in matching #RallyBees t-shirts on Tuesday. That’s of course a reference to the migrating hive that swarmed the field last week before LSU swept Tennessee.
Here’s Mainieri doing a bit of modeling. The shirts are also already on sale to the public, of course, following in the legacy of the Rally Possum.