LSU coach Paul Mainieri has taken time to let the somewhat surprising transfers of Danny Zardon and Grayson Byrd set in.
Though Mainieri was initially caught off guard, particularly by Byrd, he now says he understands and supports the decisions made by both players. He went one step further Thursday and said he doesn’t expect the transfers to have any effect on his team come fall practices.
“It’s the truth,” Mainieri said. “I’m not sure if either one of those boys would’ve ended up winning a job for us. That’s not sour grapes. If I thought they would, I would’ve strongly encouraged them to come back.”
The rumors surrounding Zardon’s decision implied he demanded a starting job, and when Mainieri couldn’t promise one, he opted to leave. Zardon will head to an NAIA school to further his career, but Mainieri denied that’s how the decision was made.
“Danny was not demanding a starting job,” Mainieri said. “That’s not how the conversation was…Danny’s got talent, and given the right situation, his talent will blossom.”
Byrd’s decision did surprise Mainieri. But the son of former LSU pitcher Paul Byrd laid it out pretty simply. He told Mainieri that he just wasn’t enjoying being at LSU.
“Sometimes a place just isn’t the right fit for some people,” Mainieri said…
“These youngsters get to go through college one time in their lives. You have to let them decide what’s best for their own life. I don’t try to talk people out of anything.”
The transfers do leave LSU with fewer bodies to compete for the eight openings in its starting lineup. But Mainieri feels he still has plenty of options.
Priority No. 1 will be finding a shortstop to replace Alex Bregman. Mainieri said four will start competing for the job in the fall — rising junior Kramer Robertson, JUCO transfer Cole Freeman and incoming freshmen Trey Dawson and O’Neal Lochridge.
LSU will determine the two best candidates from that group and move the others elsewhere.
Mainieri did mention rising sophomore Greg Deichmann as a candidate to possibly start at third base. Lochridge will join him there if he doesn’t win the shortstop job.
Both Freeman and Robertson are candidates to play second base if neither is LSU’s starting shortstop.
At first base, he said rising sophomore Bryce Jordan will compete for that job. He also included JUCO transfer Bryce Adams and incoming freshman Brody Wofford as possible first basemen as well.
There will also be competition at catcher. Mike Papierski’s considered the front-runner, but Mainieri called it “very much an open race.” Papierski still hasn’t found his stroke at the plate this summer, and Mainieri called that a concern despite his tremendous play defensively. He included JUCO transfer Jordan Romero in saying it’s probably a two-horse race at that position.
LSU must also replace two outfielders as well.
But even with all these question marks across the diamond, Maineri isn’t overwhelmed by how much is left to be decided. He’s actually embracing it and said he’s possibly the most excited he’s ever been for fall practices.
“I look at it as a challenge,” Mainieri said. “And I love challenges…We’re not going to be as good a team in February as we’re going to be in April and May. I can promise you that.”
Recent transfers won't affect LSU Baseball
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