Before the start of the season, LSU coach Paul Mainieri said that the left field position was one that was up for grabs. With the Tigers five games into the season, that battle continues between Brennan Breaux and Beau Jordan, who started for the Tigers in left field last year.
The competition was opened by Mainieri with Jordan's average finish to the 2016 season and Breaux' improvement this summer.
"Beau had a really rough last month of the season and a pretty average summer. I still love Beau," Mainieri said at the LSU Baseball Media Day. "Brennan Breaux has made remarkable improvement. I don't know how much he's put on, but I'll bet he's probably put 10 to 15 pounds on, and he's hitting the ball with a lot more authority, and he can run pretty well, and he's got a decent throwing arm, as well."
Both players said on Thursday that they're happy with the team's 4-1 start to the season, but the pair's games are at different levels right now. Jordan, a junior from Lake Charles, La., is hitting .111 on the year and is 1-for-9 from the plate with a .222 slugging percentage.
"Starting off really good for the team. That's really all I care about right now is how we progress as a unit," Jordan said. "Starting off pretty slow individually, but it usually picks itself up."
Breaux, a sophomore from Scott, La., is hitting .375 and is 3-for-8 from the plate with a .750 slugging percentage.
"Feel good with my game right now. Still have a little ways to go, but feel good how we started as a team," said Breaux. "Not treating it any different than in the fall. Just going out there every day and trying to do the best I can to win the job."
Jordan admitted that his teammate is on fire, but competition is good for a team like LSU.
"He's on fire. He can always hit the ball and it's good to have competition within a team and pushes everyone harder," Jordan said. "I'd say we're handling it pretty well."
The 5-9, 202-pound outfielder said that's why he came to LSU — to compete with the best players in the country and to win.
"When you come to a school like LSU, that's what you expect because only nine players can play on the field at one time," Jordan said. "If you have the best 15 hitters in the country competing on one team, somebody on the bench is just as good. That's why I came to LSU and that's what I expected and that's what I got."
Breaux said that he brings a little more speed to the table, but Jordan counters by reading the ball off the bat well, which comes from his starting experience last season.
"I guess we just have different styles. I guess I bring a little more speed to the table while Beau makes a lot of good reads out there in the outfield and makes good contact with the ball. Same with me, I just try not to strike out and put the ball in play and use my wheels to make plays."
The two were joking before practice on Thursday about Breaux calling himself faster before Jordan spoke with Tiger Blitz. Jordan couldn't help but agree with that assesment.
"I can just tell you we're similar in a lot of ways. Both very competitive and we both want to win," Jordan said. "We both want the best for the team and that's what this team needs from each and every person. It's about the team goal and not the individual.
"He is faster than me though."
Mainieri has worked both Breaux and Jordan into the lineup in the Tigers' five games and with Maryland coming to town, more of the is expected.
For Jordan, he's not worried about breaking out of his early season slump, which happens in baseball. It's about staying the course with your game and continuing to do what got you to this level.
"That's the worst you can do is change something up. Your swing got you here. It's just baseball," Jordan said. "The best players stay the same and that's what separates a lot of people from making it to the big leagues and those that don't.
"It's about staying consistent and not having those roller coaster rides."
Both are solid options in the field, but Mainieri will certainly be watchful of how Jordan continues to work to getting out of this slump. That could be the difference between who wins the job outright and if the competition continues for the spot in left field.
LSU takes the field for Game 1 against Maryland at Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field at 7 p.m. CT on Friday with ace pitcher Alex Lange set to get the ball to open the series.