LSU Baseball Coach Paul Mainieri Reveals Opening Day Lineup, Talks Indiana Series
Even since the start of spring ball, which was only three weeks ago, LSU coach Paul Mainieri feels he's gotten a better feel for the strengths an weaknesses of his players. With the Tigers first game against Indiana now just a little over 24 hours away, Mainieri released the lineup LSU will roll with Friday night.
Here's a what the lineup will look like:
1. Daniel Cabrera, CF
2. Cade Doughty, 2B
3. Zack Mathis, 3B
4. Saul Garza, C
5. Cade Beloso, 1B
6. Gavin Dugas, RF
7. Hayden Travinski, DH
8. Drew Bianco, LF
9. Hal Hughes, SS
There are a few notes that Mainieri revealed about the lineup, the most important being that this is not what the final lineup will look like the rest of the weekend. Mainieri said that both Saturday and Sunday's lineups will look different but because LSU is facing a left-handed pitcher on Friday night, he opted to go with a lineup that better suited the matchup.
"Tomorrow night, it's not our best defensive outfield," Mainieri said. "If we had Giovanni [DiGiacomo] out in center and Daniel Cabrera covering right field, then that would be considered our best defensive outfield. Because they're starting a left handed pitcher tomorrow night, I thought we go with this with this lineup."
Mainieri said ideally he likes to enter a season with 11 or 12 position players he feels are starting caliber players and this year he feels he's found 12 guys that could all be starters down the line. Sophomore outfielder Giovanni DiGiacomo, catcher Alex Milazzo and freshman left fielder Wes Toups were the three names that immediately came to mind for Mainieri, all of whom will earn playing time this weekend.
The plan, Mainieri said, is to move Cabrera back over to right field on Saturday and Sunday allowing DiGiacomo to take over in centerfield because of his supreme athletic ability. Milazzo, a freshman catcher, will catch on Saturday instead of Saul Garza and Toups will receive a start in left field in one of the three outings.
"I also think that Maurice Hampton is right on the fringe of being considered a starting player as well," Mainieri said. "But you can only put nine guy's names in the lineup so we're trying to establish roles for for each and every one of them. It may be a pinch runner, it might be a defensive replacement, might be a utility infielder, those kinds of things."
LSU will also be starting two freshmen Friday night in the second baseman Doughty and the designated hitter Travinski. Mainieri said both players have proven to be phenomenal hitters in their short time at LSU, even if the rest of their game hasn't quite caught up yet.
"They both have a unique quality about them as freshmen. I describe it as just them being unafraid," Mainieri said. "They're not intimidated by anything. They get in that batter's box and I don't care who they're facing, they're not backing down. They're going to get their money's worth. Cade still has a ways to go with his defense but hopefully he'll knock in more than he'll give up if you know what I mean."
LSU welcomes an Indiana team that has lost a number of veteran players from its regional team a season ago but that doesn't faze Mainieri any.
"Make no mistake about it, we're playing a great team this weekend, an SEC caliber team," Mainieri said. "Michigan played in the finals of the World Series last year and Indiana went into Ann Arbor and beat them two out of three. They've got enough guys back from last year's team, and they've restocked with some really good players that I know about. So we've got our hands full this weekend, and it's going to be a great series."