Jesse Stallings still LSU's closer

LSU BASEBALL NOTEBOOK: Paul Mainieri still has confidence in Jesse Stallings despite his recent struggles; Jake Latz to throw bullpen session Tuesday; Kramer Robertson shut down for at least a few weeks.

LSU coach Paul Mainieri still considers Jesse Stallings to be his closer despite the pitcher’s recent struggles.

Stallings has blown three saves in conference play, including one this past weekend against Texas A&M. He’s only converted half of his last six opportunities, only one of those coming against an SEC team.

He hasn’t recorded a save in an SEC game since March 21.

“If you look at the reasons why, it’s the location of his pitches,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “It hasn’t been because he doesn’t have the stuff. Hitters have turned around 94 mph fastballs. That’s not an easy thing to do, certainly not when he puts it in a good place.”

Stallings was on fire to start the year, not allowing a run until his 11th appearance. He racked up nine saves by March 17 but only has two since.

Other relievers like Parker Bugg and Hunter Newman have proven to be more consistent in recent weeks, leaving some to wonder where Stallings now falls in the pecking order.

“I don’t know that we have to say [a certain] guy is our closer,” Mainieri said. “I don’t need to be backed into a corner and say this guy is our closer anytime we have a lead in the ninth inning. I still have a great deal of confidence in Jesse.”


LATZ TO THROW A BULLPEN


Freshman pitcher Jake Latz will throw a bullpen session Tuesday for the first time since re-injuring his arm in the preseason.

Latz, who was an 11th-round draft pick last summer, has not appeared in a game this season with elbow issues that have sidelined him dating back to fall practice. The coaches decided to shut him down to start the season, and he started a throwing program in early March as part of his recovery.

Mainieri said Latz suffered a setback early in that program, but has shown improvement over the last couple weeks.

“A couple weeks ago, I wouldn’t have given a 10 percent chance that we’d see him this year,” Mainieri said. “But the last two weeks, he’s been improving. His arm feels great. His throwing action has been getting better.”

Even if Latz does return this season, he’s unlikely to have a significant role. Mainieri pegged LSU’s non-conference game against New Orleans on May 12 as a possible date for Latz’s debut.

“If he doesn’t see game action by then,” Mainieri said, “he’s probably not going to pitch at all this year.”

ROBERTSON SHUT DOWN


Backup second baseman Kramer Robertson has been shut down with an arm injury he suffered Thursday in pregame warm-ups.

Mainieri said Robertson “felt something pop” in his elbow and won’t pick up a baseball for at least a few weeks. The training staff did conduct an MRI on Friday, and Mainieri said they found some “slight ligament issues,” but no surgery is planned at the moment.

Robertson opened the year as LSU’ starting second baseman, but has only made one start since March 7 after losing the job to Jared Foster.

Mainieri said Robertson likely won’t be on the team’s travel roster for its two remaining road series. He could be used as a pinch-runner, but Mainieri said that was doubtful.


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