Josh Smith on Tuesday night joined an elite fraternity of LSU baseball players who’ve been hit in the face.
But unlike Kramer Robertson, Greg Deichmann or Chris Chinea, Smith managed to absorb the glancing blow with minimal damage to his face. No braces, no reconstructive surgery and, aside from some cuts around his mouth, no lasting damage done.
“That didn’t feel good, but honestly, it scared me more than anything,” Smith said. “I thought I was going to take my hand off my chin and there’d be blood everywhere, but there wasn’t. My face was pretty much numb for the rest of the game.”
Smith is well aware of the tweets from those former players welcoming him to the club while acknowledging he got off a bit easier.
“Those guys all had to have some work done on them,” Smith said. Mine just took some Advil and some rest.”
LSU coach Paul Mainieri said the team “dodged a bullet” that Smith managed to avoid serious injury from the hit by pitch.
A scary few moments aside, but coach and player were slightly relieved that the shortstop made it through his first week healthy after missing all but six games last season.
With the way Smith has been playing, LSU doesn’t want him to miss a beat. He’s hitting a remarkable .625 (10-for-14) through four games and at one point got a hit in six consecutive at-bats.
Easton McMurray, the only left-handed pitcher on LSU’s roster, will miss the entire 2019 season after undergoing shoulder surgery, Mainieri announced Thursday.
McMurray has been dealing with an injury that goes back to his senior year of high school. The California native visited a doctor earlier this week and the decision was made for him to have surgery. Sophomore right-hander AJ Labas underwent a similar surgery a few weeks ago.
The news leaves Mainieri without a left-handed option on the mound for the entire season. He’s been steadfast that he won’t use Daniel Cabrera on the mound to counteract that problem. The coach expounded on the difficulties posed by losing the only lefty on the staff.
“If given a choice, I wish we did have some,” Mainieri said. “I’m not going to lie about that. I give quite a bit of freedom to Alan (Dunn) to recruit the pitchers that he wants and Nolan (Cain) of course, they’re working very hard. They keep coming to me and the best pitchers they see are right-handed.
“I’m much rather have a quality right-hander than a mediocre left-hander. We’ve had some mediocre left-handers in recent years and they haven’t helped us much … I’m sure there’s going to be a time this season when it’s going to bite us. I just hope it’s not a drastic chew.”
OTHER AILING ARMS
– Freshman right-hander Chase Costello will miss this weekend after experiencing “strange soreness” in his arm. LSU actually sent him to the hospital out of fear it may be a blood clot, but tests came back negative.
– Sophomore right-hander Ma’Khail Hilliard will also miss this weekend after undergoing a non-evasive shoulder procedure earlier this week. He began throwing on Thursday and could make “serious progress” next week.