Alex Bregman will have heavy eyelids and a heavier heart when he takes the field at Auburn on Thursday.
The sophomore's paternal grandfather passed away this past weekend, and his coach admitted that the loss has weighed on his emotions.
"It's a tough time for Alex Bregman," said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. "I know he was very close with his grandfather. Alex had told me long before his passing how much his grandfather's impacted his life. He talked to him after every game, and he was his biggest fan."
Mainieri encouraged him to leave Monday morning and spend the week with his family. But to Bregman, that was out of the question.
"He refused," Mainieri said. "He said ‘My grandfather would be so angry at me if he knew I missed the game Tuesday night to be at his funeral.'"
So Bregman took the field against Northwestern State with his grandfather's name chalked on his baseball cap. Perhaps with him watching from above, Bregman drove in eight runs Tuesday, including a pair of home runs, finishing one RBI shy of the single-game record.
But with the game lasting late into the night after multiple weather delays, Bregman didn't exactly get a chance to rest. He did not board the bus to Auburn with his teammates Wednesday morning.
Instead he took the 5 a.m. flight from Baton Rouge to Los Angeles to make it in time for his grandfather's funeral services, which take place Wednesday afternoon. He'll spend the rest of the day with his family before hopping on a red eye flight to Atlanta.
That plane will arrive around 7 a.m. Thursday morning, and Bregman will meet up with pitching coach Alan Dunn, who will spend Wednesday night in North Carolina watching signee Doug Norman pitch in a playoff game.
Dunn and Bregman will then rent a car and drive to Auburn from Atlanta, arriving less than 12 hours before first pitch.
But while fatigue may wear Bregman down, his grandfather's spirit will lift him up. And Mainieri has no doubt his star shortstop will discover the strength to overcome his emotions.
"If anybody can handle it," Maineiri said, "it's this kid that loves the game so much and he'll find the energy to carry him through tomorrow night."
Bregman deals with loss before Auburn
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