Auburn, Ala.--Needing a series win to keep themselves in the hunt in the race for Hoover and the SEC Tournament, the Auburn Tigers return home for a three-game series against the Tennessee Vols set for a Thursday start. Coach Butch Thompson’s team will do so without one of its top hitters and with another questionable however as both Daniel Robert and Josh Palacios battle hand injuries.
“Daniel Robert will definitely be out the series this week and probably a couple more with his left thumb injury,” Thompson said of the first baseman/outfielder. With a broken bone on his left hand suffered against Missouri last weekend the junior is running and working out with the team, but that’s the extent of things at the moment. For the year he’s hitting .245 with two home runs and 12 RBI.
Auburn is closer to getting Palacios back however as the left fielder was wearing a brace on his right hand after spraining it last weekend at Missouri. Hitting .408 on the year with five home runs and 23 RBI, Palacios has been one of the keys to an offense that has scored just eight runs in the three games without him.
“Joshua, we feel like is day-to-day, and I’m hopeful he’ll play,” Thompson said. “There’s not a lineup that we ride out that we don’t want Joshua Palacios in our lineup. We think everything is cleared from our doctor’s perspective, it’s more of him and what he can take with his right wrist. Can he hit, can he play, can he perform?
“We want to make sure Josh isn’t doing anything that could compound this and make this worse than it is. I think he’s day-to-day and I’m hopeful that he’s in the lineup on Thursday.”
Auburn (15-18, 3-9) needs all the positive news it can get at the moment after the Tigers dropped another one-run game on Tuesday night, falling 6-5 at Kennesaw State. Now winless in eight one-run games this season and with a record of just 2-12 in two-run games, Thompson said right now it’s just a matter of staying the course and continuing to play and compete the right way.
“We just keep doing what we do and understands there’s results and a process,” Thompson said. “We are focused on the process of trying to get better as a ball player every day. I don’t think any of our coaches are going to be able to pick up a bat or throw a pitch, the players will do it.
“The greatest of all time endure their deals and we can be better for this by continuing to grow and respond like a man and act like a professional in everything we do. I’m watching for that as much every day when I’m on the practice field or in a game with our players. We’re not attacking that, but we’re addressing that immediately.
“When they put on an Auburn uniform every day they stand for something. They represent a great Auburn family that sold this place out two weeks ago, that believe in what we’re doing. There’s 46 former big leaguers that came through this program. They’ve got a lot to play for. We’re not going allow someone else to tell us we’ve got nothing to play for. We get to choose that and we’ve got a lot to play for still. We’re going to keep battling as hard as we can.”
Game times for the Tennessee series are scheduled for 6 p.m. on both Thursday and Friday with Saturday’s game set for 1 p.m. The first two games of the series can be seen on SEC Network.