Notebook | First live outing after Tommy John “an encouraging sign” for left-hander Nick Bush

By JAMES MORAN | Tiger Rag Associate Editor

Preseason scrimmage or not, Nick Bush was just happy to finally tow the rubber in Alex Box Stadium in a live situation.

The left-hander from Georgia took a medical redshirt last season after undergoing Tommy John Surgery not long after arriving on LSU’s campus. His long road to recovery reached a milestone Wednesday as Bush worked through a live inning feeling healthy.

There was rust, as one would expect, but LSU coach Paul Mainieri liked the way the ball came out of Bush’s hand and said his fastball touched 89 mph.

“He threw ok,” Mainieri said. “He still has a ways to go, but it was an encouraging sign yesterday.”

It’s a significant development for a pitcher who found himself on the shelf before his freshman season could even begin. Bush underwent surgery to repair nerve damage following his first bullpen session at LSU.

Two months later, Bush returned to the mound and tore his Ulnar Collateral Ligament, forcing him to undergo Tommy John, his second time under the knife in two months on campus.

What followed was more than a year of grueling rehabilitation. Mainieri characterized Bush’s recovery as being ‘two steps forward, one step back,’ and as recently as last week, pitching coach Alan Dunn was ‘discouraged’ about his progress.

Dunn approached Mainieri at the tail end of last week and suggested putting Bush back on the mound.

“It was definitely long and tough,” Bush said. “I had to push through it. There were a lot of ups and downs, but I’m finally getting to where I need to be. I’m excited for the season. I feel good. It’s just about continuous work and trying to get stronger every day.”

Mainieri maintains it’s far too early to figure out when and if Bush would play a role for the Tigers this season, but with two weeks left until opening night, the coach left the door open to Bush making his LSU debut in the early portion of the season if the southpaw continues to make progress.

If healthy, Bush could be a nice addition to an LSU bullpen decidedly light on left-handed pitching. Blair Frederick, a true freshmen from New Orleans, is the only other left-handed pitcher on LSU’s roster besides Bush and starter Jared Poche’.

NOTES

– The pitching has dominated during the early scrimmages, Mainieri said, and one hurler in particular earned raved reviews. Mainieri said sophomore Caleb Gilbert had thrown “exceptionally well” in two outings and was working his way into the conversation as a potential third starter.

– One of LSU’s biggest current position battles is for the backup catcher job behind starter Mike Papierski. Jordan Romero, who couldn’t throw at all during fall ball due to an arm injury, is starting to get his strength back, Mainieri said, though he’s still a long ways off from throwing with the authority he displayed last season. Nick Coomes, an LSU-Eunice transfer, handled the backup catching duties in the fall and remains squarely in the mix. He’s hit better so far this spring, Mainieri said, but he still needs to prove he can throw runners out from behind the plate.

About James Moran 1377 Articles
James Moran was Editor of Tiger Rag from August 2018 to October 2019. He previously served as the associate editor since 2014. He is a graduate of the LSU Manship School of Journalism.

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