The sophomore started all three games at the position over the weekend in place of Jared Foster, who’s academically ineligible for the rest of the season. Zardon had both high and low points in the most extensive time he’s spent at second base.
Zardon didn’t learn until about three hours before Friday’s game against Missouri that he’d replace Foster in the starting lineup. He had played second during fall practices his first semester at LSU, and he started one game at second during his freshman season.
But dating back to high school, Zardon’s mostly occupied the two corner infield positions. He said it took time to reacquaint himself with second base, but he showed enough during the series to earn more opportunities.
Zardon said he hasn’t spoken to LSU coach Paul Mainieri about their plans moving forward. He just wants to be consistent and take advantage of the chance he’s getting.
“I’m just trying to play good defense as much as I can, hit whenever I can,” he said. “We’ll go from there, and see where it takes us.”
He played errorless baseball for 26 of the 27 innings he spent in the field, and he also homered in his first at-bat.
“Danny made some really nice plays,” Zardon said. “He hustled and showed some good instincts. He did some good stuff.”
There was also some not-so-good stuff. Zardon struck out six times in his nine at-bats. He also committed a costly error in the ninth inning Sunday that contributed to Missouri’s game-tying run.
“I don’t know if I was a step too slow, maybe didn’t get extended enough,” Zardon said. “I just came up a little bit, and it popped under my glove.”
Mainieri’s willing to forgive the missteps though.
“I’d love for him to not strike out so much and make those plays in the ninth inning, and I’ll be a happy man,” Mainieri said. “You’d like for him to do a little better in those areas, but nobody’s perfect.”
Mainieri’s also lacking in other options. He considers Grayson Byrd to be Zardon’s backup, but he’s only played sparingly as a freshman.
Mainieri did say Monday that Foster has submitted an appeal to the University. Mainieri’s not allowed to be involved in that process, and he wouldn’t provide any specifics.
He’s operating under the assumption that Foster won’t return.
“Do I wish Jared Foster was a part of the team? Certainly,” Mainieri said. “The bottom line is, he didn’t get the job done. He let us down, and he knows that. So we aren’t going to sit around and cry about it. All we can do is keep plugging forward.”
LSU does have another natural second baseman waiting on the bench. Kramer Robertson remains sidelined with an arm injury he suffered the weekend of the Texas A&M series.
Robertson still hasn’t started throwing again though. He’ll resume that during the SEC Tournament with hopes that he could be ready for the NCAA Regional.
Mainieri said they won’t try to accelerate his recovery based on the need for another second baseman.
“We can’t do anything until the doctor gives him clearance,” Mainieri said. “It will all depend on how he feels [at the SEC Tournament]. I hope he’ll be ready for the Regional, but that’s only if the doctor clears him.”
That’s no guarantee, so LSU will continue with Zardon for the foreseeable future.