That’s something Hale dealt with throughout the weekend, and Paul Mainieri said they will sit him Tuesday with hopes that prevents it from being an issue this weekend. Mainieri said Hale’s move to third base has resulted in him “doing an excessive amount of throwing,” which has led to a tender arm.
Hale did not play third base Saturday against Ole Miss. He instead served as LSU’s designated hitter. He was back at third Sunday, but he’ll be out of the lineup against Southern.
“We’ve decided to give him complete rest until Thursday,” Mainieri said. “Hopefully we won’t have to deal it with for the weekend. He won’t even hit tomorrow night.”
Mainieri said he doesn’t yet know who will replace him at third. Danny Zardon and Bryce Jordan would seem the likeliest two candidates. Grayson Byrd played third base late in Sunday’s blowout of Ole Miss, so it’s possible Mainieri experiments with him in the starting lineup.
CHINEA BACK TO CLEANUP?
With Hale out of the lineup, Mainieri said there’s a “good chance” that Chris Chinea returns to the cleanup spot. He’s occupied the four-hole most of the season, but Mainieri dropped him down to the eighth spot Sunday.
Chinea doesn’t have any home runs this season, but he is tied for third with 14 RBI, and Mainieri said he leads the team hitting with runners in scoring position.
Mainieri said that Chinea’s drop in the batting order had little to do with his production at the plate. He simply wanted to move Hale and Jared Foster up in the batting order.
Mainieri still expects the Chinea’s power to come.
“Give me a choice between a player that hits in the clutch and one that hits home runs, I’ll take the player that hits in the clutch every time,” Mainieri said. “Now, I would like to see him run a couple balls out of the park.”
Chinea could also get more time at first base. He’s started most of LSU’s games this year at designated hitter, but played Sunday at first. He failed to make a scoop on a possible double play in the first inning, and that eventually led to a run.
But Mainieri said Chinea was getting extra practice time Monday on picking low throws.
“He’s capable of picking those balls and doing a good job there,” Mainieri said. “He’ll never win any gold gloves at first base, but he can do an adequate job over there.”
REYNOLDS TO START TUESDAY
Russell Reynolds will get his second midweek start in a row Tuesday against Southern.
He threw two scoreless innings against McNeese State last week in his first start since 2013. Mainieri said Reynolds will get a longer outing Tuesday if he’s up to it.
“He could go three to five innings tomorrow,” Mainieri said. “We’ll probably have about a 60-pitch restriction on him.”
LSU won’t need to throw 11 pitchers like they did last week. The Tigers have a quick turnaround with the start of an SEC series Thursday, and Mainieri said the bullpen is “tired” after throwing a lot of innings over the weekend.
“We need [Reynolds] to eat up some innings for us,” Mainieri said. “I like the way he’s been throwing, and want to see him extend a little bit and maybe develop into something.”
MORE HONORS FOR LANGE
Freshman pitcher Alex Lange earned national and SEC honors Monday after his stellar performance against Ole Miss.
Lange struck out 13 Saturday, surrendering two runs (one earned) and three hits in eight innings without walking a batter. For that, he was named SEC Freshman of the Week and National Player of the Week by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper.
Lange is 4-0 this season with a 1.45 ERA, and he has 39 strikeouts in 31 innings while holding opponents to a .185 batting average. He was also named SEC Freshman of the Week on Feb. 16 after defeating Kansas in his collegiate debut.