Right-handed pitcher Caleb Gilbert underwent shoulder surgery this summer and will miss the six-week fall practice season, LSU coach Paul Mainieri told Tiger Rag on Wednesday.
“Gilbert had surgery in the summer and we knew he’d be out,” Mainieri said. “It wasn’t anything serious, he just needed to have it cleaned up a little bit. He had some fraying in his shoulder and it’ll make his arm feel a lot better now that its cleaned up.”
Gilbert is coming off a junior season in which he struggled mightily before and after being pulled from the weekend rotation. His velocity was down compared to his first two seasons and he pitched to a bloated 5.58 ERA in 61.1 innings over 18 appearances (11 starts).
The hope for LSU will be that Gilbert, once healthy, can regain the form that made him a hero of the 2017 College World Series run. From May 6 of that season — the day LSU began a 16-game winning streak that punched its ticket to Omaha — on, Gilbert went 5-0 across nine appearances in a variety of roles. He allowed just two earned runs in 26.2 innings (0.68 ERA) and struck out 32.
LSU will also be without veteran reliever Matt Beck for the duration of fall ball. Beck felt some elbow discomfort after his final appearance of the summer for the Acadiana Cane Cutters, Mainieri said, so LSU has decided to shut him down and rest until spring.
“If they’re healthy, then we know that those are guys that we can count on,” Mainieri said. ”
LSU is set to begin practice on Sunday at Alex Box Stadium.
SMITH FULL GO
Shortstop Josh Smith will be a full participant as LSU opens fall practice on Sunday, Mainieri said. The coach said Smith hasn’t felt pain in weeks and should no longer be limited by the back injury that kept him out for all but six games last season.
“Josh is 100 percent as far as I’m concerned and he’s concerned,” Mainieri said. “He’s not holding back at all. He’s done everything that everybody else has done during the individual workouts. He’s swinging the ball. He’s been fielding ground balls, throwing. running… He’s doing it all. So my anticipation is that Josh Smith’s injury is behind him and we’re counting on him being an every-day player for us.”
Earlier this summer Mainieri referred to Smith’s health as the most critical factor for LSU’s 2019 season. Provided he’s healthy, he’s expected to play shortstop and hit at the top or in the middle of LSU’s lineup.
Smith hit .250 with two home runs and five RBI in his limited action last season. He was named a Freshman All-American in 2017 as LSU’s every-day third baseman, hitting .281 with 16 doubles, five homers, 52 runs, 48 RBI and five stolen bases.
Center fielder Zach Watson resumed baseball activities this week after breaking his right hand earlier this summer in a non-baseball accident, Mainieri said.
Watson was cleared to resume swinging a bat earlier this week and has begun throwing. As of Wednesday, Watson had taken fly balls in the outfield and hit off a tee as he works his way toward being a full participant in fall scrimmages.
“I think each day it will progress,” Mainieri said. “Hopefully he’ll be ready to play by Sunday.”