Notebook: Ma’Khail Hilliard shut down with recurring arm soreness

Top-ranked LSU began full-squad workouts on Friday afternoon at Alex Box Stadium, but one key arm remains on the mend.

Sophomore right-hander Ma’Khail Hilliard has been shut down following a recurrence of shoulder soreness, LSU coach Paul Mainieri announced before practice.

Hilliard missed the 2018 NCAA Regional and fall practice due to shoulder soreness. He resumed throwing recently, but LSU opted to shut him down for at least a week once the pain returned.

“He threw for the first time against hitters, and then he was experiencing soreness again,” Mainieri said. “We’re hoping it is just a little bit of a muscle strain, so we’re going to shut him down for about a week.

“He’s been to see the doctor and they don’t think it’s anything serious. We’re looking at a target date of next Friday for him to pitch in an intra-squad game.”

The lingering soreness is frustrating, Hilliard acknowledges, but he appreciates the cautious approach LSU is taking to his health.

“I wanted to take the precautions and make sure my shoulder is right for the upcoming year,” Hilliard said. “It gets frustrating at times, but I’m not letting up. I’m pretty confident I’m going to be ready for the start of the season.”

It’s unclear what role Hilliard will assume once he’s healthy.

Mainieri announced that Zack Hess and Eric Walker will start on Friday and Sunday, respectively. The Saturday starter job, which Hilliard occupied last season, is likely to go to freshman Landon Marceaux.

That leaves midweek starter or a bullpen role for Hilliard to slot into. He’s versatile enough to fill either, and Hilliard said he’s ready to do whatever the team asks of him on a reloaded staff.

“I’m not sure yet,” Hilliard said. “We have a lot of talent on this team. It’s just a battle coming out here to practice with these guys and seeing the talent. Whatever I fall in to is what I fall in to.”

OTHER INJURIES

Fellow sophomore AJ Labas and freshman left-hander Easton McMurray are also dealing with arm soreness, Mainieri said. McMurray is the only left on the staff.

“Their situations are still kind of perplexing to us,” Mainieri said. “They come back and then they’re sore. I just don’t have a feeling on either of them. They could have surgery or they could end up bouncing back.”

PROJECTED LINEUP

There’s three weeks of scrimmages between now and opening night, but Mainieri offered up his projected starting lineup.

Here it is:

  1. Antoine Duplantis RF
  2. Josh Smith SS
  3. Saul Garza DH
  4. Daniel Cabrera LF
  5. Zach Watson CF
  6. Whoever plays first base
  7. Brock Mathis C
  8. Hal Hughes 3B – OR – Brandt Broussard
  9. Hal Hughes 3B – OR – Brandt Broussard

About James Moran 1236 Articles
James Moran was named Editor of Tiger Rag in August 2018. He previously served as the associate editor since 2014. He covers LSU football and baseball and is a graduate of the LSU Manship School of Journalism.

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