Sorry I'm a little late, but we've only got 11 days until the start of the Baseball season, so now is a great time to familiarize yourself with the new team and the college baseball world at large. Let's start with Coach Mainieri's press conference a few days ago.
Starts off confirming the roster will remain at 33 of 35 players, with two fall transfers that still count on the roster...the battle to take over 3B from the departed Christian Ibarra has not been settled, but is close...He is optimistic about the freshmen position players, but doesn't think they will be needed in leading roles quite yet...The freshmen on the pitching staff is a concern, but the example set by Jared Poche last year is a guide of what he expects and what should be expected from these young arms...No set weekend rotation yet, will be determined in the non-con before SEC play...He gives a thought that Poche or one of these freshmen may end up as a dependable closer...discussing the introduction of the flat seam ball this season, testing in practice has shown a good 20-25 ft increase on average for well hit balls. Practice has also shown that the flat seam ball reduces the chance for blisters with the pitchers...The experienced position players will help anchor the team and give leadership to the freshmen pitching...Jesse Stallings seems to have recovered well from Tommy John surgery, 90-92 with a good breaking ball and changeup, Russell Reynolds recovered from labrum surgery last year and fell out of the back of a truck before fall practice this season, injuring his non-throwing elbow, but he should be in rotation soon, Hunter Newman had minor surgery and needs to work on his consistency...the Jordan brothers , Beau and Bryce, get a glowing review. Beau has shown to be a clutch hitter in practice, Bryce has shown aptitude at 1B and C (and taking HBPs at the plate)...new pitching coach Andy Cannizaro gets a great review, and Mainieri reveals his own belief that he may have been spreading Javi Sanchez a little thin in his practice coaching responsibilities. To that end, Cannizaro will focus primarily on hitting during practice to make sure players are adjusting properly....Greg Deichmann gets compared as a bigger, more athletic Ryan Schimpf; a hitter with great power who will miss a lot and plays erratic defense at the moment, a talent with great potential who needs molding....on not reaching Omaha consistently, he agrees that it is the standard for LSU, and while he wont consider the last few season a failure by any means, he understands the expectations...expresses the importance of building toughness and confidence in the freshman pitchers, because they wont find an easy day in the SEC. Mentions the great improvement they have had under Dunn's tutelage already...on the trouble of so many Thursday starts (due to TV obligations and certain scheduling quirks, 5 of LSU's 10 SEC series have Thursday night games) he does not know how the rotations will work out yet and couldn't say if he believed anyone on the roster could handle a 6 day rotation yet...he compares the makeup of this team to his 2002 Notre Dame team: Confident, experience position players backing up a highly rated bunch of freshman arms...Papierski is a talent at C that he believes could start immediately if needed, but will take the opportunity to work on his hitting first...is looking forward to a great year from Bregman...he is VERY excited about the possibility of the draft being moved back to after the season is over...Alden Cartwright remains very confident, despite the way the season ended. Mainieri hopes that there wont be much need to move bullpen guys into starting roles this year...hasn't noticed that the flat seam ball has affected infield play, thought he's worried about choppers to 3B over the last few years...Poche probably gets opening night...The State of SEC Baseball is strong...Mainieri wishes the SEC slate was 39 games a year, wants to play everybody
ON THE RECORD, PART I: LSU BASEBALL COACH PAUL MAINIERI and PART II - The Advocate These are some older interviews with Coach Mainieri from early last month, but he does go into a bit more detail on some subjects than he did in the press conference
Have a Ball: LSU expects better offensive production with new baseball - DIG BR Good feature story on the new flat seam baseballs
Other National Baseball Headlines
Vandy 3B Xavier Turner won't play in 2015 - tennessean.com Despite playing most of Vandy's games last season until they reached Omaha, Turner remains suspended by the NCAA for unspecified reasons
Wichita State Baseball Hit With NCAA Penalties - Collegiate Baseball The Shockers will have to vacate wins for their 2012 and 2013 seasons
Hit By Pitch Epidemic Threatens Game Integrity - Collegiate Baseball The NCAA rules commitee announced a change to rules enforcement regarding HBP
Can The New Baseball Revive The Longball? - Baseball America A national take on the new ball
VA Settlement Leaves Future of Jackie Robinson Stadium In Doubt - Bruins Nation Just a few years removed from a National Championship, UCLA baseball may soon be forcibly removed from their home field due an odd land rights issue.
Special Note here because I really have no where else to talk about it. D1Baseball.com, the site us enthusiasts have used for years for it's rock solid, if antiquated, national college baseball scoreboard, has expanded it's mission to now include editorial content from an amazing collection of the best names covering the sport. There site looks to corner the market on national college baseball coverage and so far they are doing a great job. They did not pay me to give them a free ad, I've just loved that site for years and hope their new venture pays off.