By JAMES MORAN | Tiger Rag Associate Editor
LSU had an everyday designated hitter in All-SEC performer Bryce Jordan. With him lost for the season to knee surgery, Paul Mainieri hasn’t been in any hurry to elevate another to everyday DH status.
“Once (Jordan) got hurt, anybody who’s not in a starting defensive position becomes a candidate for DH,” Mainieri said. “
Bryce Adams began the year getting an audition of sorts for the role. Then true freshman Rankin Woley hit his way into the mix and spent a week in the starting lineup and performed well.
Mainieri was hesitant to put a third true freshmen in the lineup considering all that came with playing at Minute Maid Park, leading him to opt for a more experienced bat. Woley did come off the bench Sunday with a pinch-hit single that would up being the tying run in the ninth inning against Texas Tech.
Instead Jordan Romero made his first three starts of the season and provided a spark, collecting four hits and driving in a pair of runs in 10 at-bats.
Mainieri shared Monday that he’d actually went to Houston planning on using reserve infielder Chris Reid as the DH against TCU, but changed his mind after watching Romero take batting practice the night before.
“Jordan’s a little bit of a streaky hitter,” Mainieri said. “Normally batting practice doesn’t have any effect on games, but in Jordan’s case, when he’s feeling good, it shows in batting practice and there’s some carryover into the game … And Jordan swung the bat so well I decided to keep him in there and he had a really good weekend. I thought he was one of our better guys.”
However, it doesn’t sound like that guarantees the senior slugger anything moving forward. While always open to riding the hot hand, Mainieri presently leans toward mixing and matching from the different skill sets on his bench.
“If somebody takes the bull by the horns in a big way, then they’ll probably be in there a more extended period of time,” Mainieri said. “They’re all a little bit different in their swings and the kind of pitching I think they’re capable of hitting. Some of them are more streaky. Others are more consistent.
“So I don’t want to say it’s a total gut feel I’ll go with, more of just calculating all those factors and seeing where we go.”
HESS TO START TUESDAY — WEATHER PERMITTING
Zack Hess will start one of LSU’s two midweek games this week — which one will depend on Mother Nature.
Mainieri announced Monday that the freshman right-hander is scheduled to pitch against San Diego on Tuesday night. However, if that game gets rained out — the forecast currently calls for an 80 percent chance of precipitation — Hess will take the ball Wednesday at McNeese State.
“We’ll just take it one game at a time,” Mainieri said. “If tomorrow were to get cancelled, Hess would start on Wednesday. Zack Hess will get a start one way or the other.”
Mainieri didn’t mention a specific pitch count set for the rookie, saying only Hess would remain in the game as long as he remained effective — “within reason.”
Should LSU get both games in, Mainieri said his Wednesday starter is to be announced. Except to see a parade of lightly-used relievers like Matt Beck, Will Reese and Collin Strall if Mainieri needs to fill 18 innings without overtaxing his key relievers.
LSU fell out of the Top-5 in all four major polls following a 1-2 showing at the Shriners Hospitals for Children College Classic over the weekend. Here’s where the Tigers stand in the polls. Last week’s rankings are shown in parenthesis.
Baseball America 6 (4)
D1Baseball.com 7 (4)
Perfect Game 6 (2)
Collegiate Baseball Newspaper 6 (3)
ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER RECOGNITION
Jared Poche’s 22 consecutive innings aren’t the only streak the lefty is riding through his prolific start to the season. He’s also been piling up the hardware.
Poche’ was named Co-SEC Pitcher of the Week on Monday, sharing the honor with Auburn’s Keegan Thompson. He’s now taken home two SEC Pitcher of the Week and National Pitcher of the Week two times each through three starts.