Greg Diechmann (Photo by Billy Embody)

Teammates say no surprise that Greg Deichmann is playing on opening night

When LSU outfielder Greg Deichmann broke his cheekbone last Friday and had surgery, many counted him out to be in the Tigers starting lineup against Air Force, but his teammates didn't.

LSU's leading home run hitter in 2016, Greg Deichmann, who makes the transition to right field after starting at first base last season, will start on Friday against Air Force just a week after having surgery to repair broken bones in his right cheekbone.

When asked if the quick turn leaves him worried after such a short period of time, Deichmann's response was simple.

"No reservations."

When the injury happened, coach Paul Mainieri didn't realize what exactly had happened until he saw a dent in the side of the junior's head. Practice ended shortly thereafter and the team got Deichmann in to have surgery quickly, which is the key to Deichmann being available on LSU's Opening Night.

Deichmann will wear a special helmet when batting that has a half cage on the right side of his face. A doctor in Lafayette cleared him on Thursday morning to play. After taking the pitch to the head, Deichmann said the whole experience didn't freak him out too much and was back taking batting practice on Wednesday.

"It didn't really traumatize me. It was just one of those things that kind of shocked you. I got hit in the face and really didn't know what happened," Deichmann said. "I stuck in there yesterday (Wednesday). I hadn't really gotten to hold a bat in a few days."

When Mainieri first saw him, he was holding out hope for Deichmann to be able to get back to them team, but things accelerated quickly and Deichmann was back hitting off a tee on Tuesday.

"I was still cautiously optimistic. The swelling went down. This morning, the doctor gave 100 percent," Mainieri said.

Pitcher Alex Lange said when he saw Deichmann not running down to first base after being hit by pitcher Blair Fredrick, that was when he knew something was up. 

"It was kind of worrisome at the beginning of the week not knowing how everything was going to go with the doctor," Lange said. "It's good to have him back. It's hard for any team to lose two guys in the middle of the order, but having him back is something to be very fortunate for."

It's a coincidence that designated hitter Bryce Adams was in right field when Deichmann got hit, but that the team is lucky to have said that having the Metairie native is a huge boost for the lineup.

"It was scary. All of us were worried. I was in right field. You can feel the whole atmosphere in the park just deflate," Adams said. "He's tough. One of the toughest guys I know. He got lucky and we got lucky because we need him in the lineup."

Pitcher Jared Poche', who will get the start on Saturday against Army, said that he isn't surprised that Deichmann found a way to get back into the lineup for Opening Night.

"It's crazy. He had surgery less than a week ago. He's a fighter and pretty much expected it, knowing the guy he is," Poche' said. "He can hit one out of the park whenever. He's a leader and we're better with him. If there's a chance he's going to play, he's going to play. I'm glad I get to call him my teammate."

Lange described Deichmann as a "beast" and that nothing was going to stop him.

"I'm not surprised. That guy is an animal. He's a beast in the weight room, beast on the field," Lange said. "Nothing is going to stop him from playing. I'm glad he's okay. I didn't want him to rush back and I don't think he has. He's ready to go."

Deichmann said that after almost having his third Opening Night taken from him, one that he returned to LSU specifically for to make, it holds a little more meaning. His teammates were excited for the news, especially after originally thinking that wouldn't be the case.

"Kind of gives it a little more meaning to it. The fact that I came back to LSU was to get that season on the right foot on February 17," Deichmann said. "Having it almost taken before I went to the doctor, they told me I probably wasn't going to play so being able to get that surgery and expedited back gave it new meaning.

"They were ecstatic. They were all for it and I think it kind of fires them up even more with it already being Opening Night."

Deichmann will bat cleanup for the Tigers on Friday and settle into his new spot in right field as SEC co-favorites take the field at 7 p.m. CT.

Feb. 16 Practice Notes

  • Lange will go 3-5 innings according to Mainieri on Friday while Jared Poche' and Eric Walker are expected to throw 80-85 pitches, if they earn that amount Mainieri noted.
  • Hunter Newman is the closer, Mainieri said. "There's no doubt there."
  • Mainieri said that Brennon Breaux will be available for the team on Friday.
  • Zack Hess' start on Sunday was pushed back to midweek, probably Wednesday, to allow for him to make his first appearance as a college player in Alex Box Stadium. Mainieri said that Hess will see an inning out of the bullpen.

Cole Freeman, 2B
Antoine Duplantis, CF
Kramer Robertson, SS
Greg Deichmann, RF
Beau Jordan, LF
Bryce Adams, DH
Jake Slaughter, 1B
Michael Papierski, C  
Josh Smith, 3B

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