IT'S GAME WEEK, so it's time to get into a season preview of baseball in earnest this week. We've got a bunch of previews coming this week leading to the season opener with UNO on Friday night, but let's get started with the professionals. Media Day was a bit over a week ago and there is plenty to read from the professional outlets. Let's start with Coach Mainieri himself.
Discusses dealing with the winter weather that delayed practice (and media day for that matter)...isn't looking forward to facing his old coach Ron Maestri and is disappointed LSU wont be able to open the new Privateer Park...discusses how scholarships work in baseball and how LSU tries to divvy it up...is hopeful that Kurt McCune and Joe Broussard can anchor a pitching staff with a lot of questions...Nola's ready to rock Friday night's again and Mainieri doesn't want his college career to end without a championship..."the SEC is a league where you could lose all 30 games"... without Katz and Rhymes to protect Alex Bregman from getting pitched around, it will be important to find a good lineup early. Will likely start Christian Ibarra or Tyler Moore behind Bregman, depending on the pitching. Proposed lineup: Sean McMullen, Mark Laird, Bregman, Ibarra/Moore, Conner Hale(or whoever plays 2B), Andrew Stevenson, Jared Foster (who has been inconsistent, but improved)/Chris Sciambra, Chris Chinea or Kade Scivicque(whoever is playing 1B)...look for improved batting from Stevenson...Finding a closer to replace Chris Cotton is the biggest priority, might be Brady Domangue, McCune, or Broussard...new ball will bring offense back to the game and give pitchers real penalties for bad decisions, which will bring some fan interest back to the game as well...glowing early review of freshman Jared Poche, who will have a weekend starting role (Something Poche didn't know until that afternoon)...Parker Bugg is recovering from mono, but should be back soon. Danny Zardon and Kramer Robertson wont start early, but he thinks they can be eased into the game. are Jake Fraley has improved significantly since the christmas break... Dakota Dean, Jarret DeHart, and Cade Stone are all freshmen who will need some time to adjust to the college game....Can't change what you do all year just for Omaha, you can't win the SEC hitting .240 and bunting all the time like UCLA, knee jerk reactions to a postseason wont keep you successful (goes into some detail about the two losses in Omaha, you can tell it's still a sore spot)...Hunter Newman is recovering from injuries, probably wont be ready for the season start...Alan Dunn has adjusted well to the college game, where winning is more of a priority than it was in his minors job...reviews the OCC and his preference to play multiple teams on a weekend instead of a 3 game series...Yale series is being done as a personal favor to an unnamed LSU benefactor...a lot of tough, local mid week games early...Purdue was scheduled when they were a top ten team host regionals...he's asked about the potential player's union and he is very much not in favor of one
Starting pitching lineup for the first week: Fri vs UNO: Nola, Sat @ UNO: Kyle Bouman, Sun vs Grambling: Jared Poché, Wednesday @ SLU: Cody Glenn. Foster is moving from LF to RF, swapping with Laird. Still no catcher decided
Now that all 5 of the standard polls of college baseball are out, the CBI Composite Ranking has been released with LSU settling in at #6, with only Miss St. ahead of us in the SEC. The Composite #1 team is Cal St-Fullerton, who split the nations #1 rankings with UVA.
LSU will get 27 games on TV this season, with the rest of the home games being covered in the final year of Geaux Zone baseball. Overall, the SEC will have more than 70 games on ESPN networks. ESPN is also making the claim that they are airing the most college baseball games they ever have this season, but with over 150 of their about 200 games being on ESPN3 only (a majority of those being ACC games) it's doesn't seem like the sport is actually getting more airtime. Cox Sports, in their final year of covering SEC baseball (and softball, for that matter) has also released an impressive schedule [PDF LINK]
vs. New Orleans (Feb. 14, Cox Sports)
at New Orleans (Feb. 15, Cox Sports)
vs. Grambling (Feb. 16, MLB Network)
at Southeastern Louisiana (Feb. 19, Cox Sports)
vs. Virginia Tech (Feb. 21, Cox Sports)
vs. UL-Lafayette (Feb. 25, Cox Sports)
vs. Southern (March 12, Cox Sports)
at Vanderbilt (March 15, FSN)
vs. South Alabama (March 19, Cox Sports)
vs. Georgia (Fri and Sat, Cox Sports)
at Florida (March 28, CSS)
vs. Mississippi State (Fri, CSS; Sat, ESPNU; Sun, Cox Sports)
vs. Arkansas (Fri, Cox Sports; Sat, ESPN2; Sun, Cox Sports)
at Ole Miss (Thurs, ESPNU; Fri, FSN)
vs. Tulane (April 22, Cox Sports)
vs. Tennessee (April 26, CST)
at Texas A&M (Sat, ESPN2; Sun, ESPN)
vs. Alabama (Sat, FSN; Sun, CSS)
at Auburn (May 17, FSN).
From The Advocate - Kurt McCune, now recovered from a lower back fracture, looks to compete in a bullpen with some question marks.
From Bayou Bengals Insider - A profile of Jared Foster and how he has worked to turn himself from a walk-on QB into a potentially starting outfielder.
From Tiger Rag - A profile of all-world SS Alex Bregman and his amazing work ethic.rom The Times-Pic - Profiles of two newer faces on the team in Joe Broussard, who's returning from a full year off due to Tommy John surgery, and Brady Domangue, a transfer from LSU-E who could become a dynamite closer. They also take a look at the battle for the Left Field starting gig between Chris Sciambra, Jared Foster, Sean McMullen.
From DIG Magazine - A profile of Andrew Stevenson, who spent the offseason trying to improve his .193 BA to go along with his great defensive fielding. Also, a profile of Aaron Nola and the pressure of having just one more shot at a Championship.
From The Daily Rev - More on Juniors Brady Domangue and Zac Person, two LSU-E transfer pitchers who both started on Eunice's 2013 NJCAA Divison II National Championship runner-up team.
From Tiger Tracks, a profile of the 1961 SEC Championship team
Former #LSU baseball player Todd Linden has been named hitting coach for Augusta, the SF Giants' team in the South Atlantic League.— Bryan Lazare (@bldore) February 4, 2014