Paul Mainieri talks to WWL about CWS preparations
LSU Baseball Coach Paul Mainieri took a few minutes to stop by Sports Talk to chat with me and Bobby Hebert about the Tigers' preparations for Omaha.
"We had a nice simulated game today with Cody Glenn throwing about six innings," Mainieri told us. "I thought he threw the ball, actually, much better than last week. Last week he looked a little bit rusty, after having the weekend off. This week he looked a lot better...I was very pleased."
Mainieri said today's workout was designed to let the guys ease back into their routine following the emotional blowout win over OU on Saturday.
"It really was kind of a low-key practice, except for the little simulated game we played, kind of letting the guys get their bodies back to feeling good, and tomorrow we'll have a good longer workout, and Wednesday, then off to Omaha on Thursday."
Coach Mainieri agreed with Bobby's take on Jacoby Jones' ability to be a game-changer.
"He's just one of those guys that has that ability, when he puts it all together, he can be the best player on the field, easily," the Coach told us. "Throughout the year, he's played great defense. When he wasn't hitting, he was contributing to the team that way. But when he gets his hits, and he gets on base, his legs become so valuable, and he can hit the ball so hard. SO, he just put it all together this weekend...He was just a difference-maker, and really carried our team, offensively. It was fantastic the whole week, and was probably our most valuable player, outside of our pitching staff."
Looking ahead to UCLA, Mainieri agreed that their pitching could rival some of the best LSU has seen this year.
"Their head coach John Savage has a pitching background, he was the pitching coach at Southern Cal...And that's been what his emphasis has been on in recruiting for UCLA, and he's continued to have some magnificent rotations. A couple of years ago, they had the first and the third pick in the draft in the same rotation."
Despite LSU's very talented and deep bullpen, Coach Mainieri told us it’s not as much of a factor in the first round of matchups at the CWS.
"You could wind up winning your bracket with only using two starting pitchers, if you have two really good starters and a closer," Mainieri told us. "Once you get in the Championship round, you have to have three starting pitchers, because you play three consecutive days, and of course your bullpen becomes more important in the three-game series...it's more like a traditional weekend series, or a Super Regional."
And, the fact that Omaha's huge, loud crowds resemble many a home game at Alex Box isn't lost on Mainieri.
"That's what I talked about all day with (the team.) It's different, there's no question about it, with the enormity of it all, and all the pageantry...but like I told our players, let me tell you what the characteristics of the College World Series is: You play in front of big crowds, you play in a brand new, beautiful ball park...there's enormous media coverage, there's an enormous amount of fans, and you play great competition on national television...I don't care that we aren't experienced...I think if there's a team in the country that can handle being in that environment without having been there in the last couple of years, I've got to think it's us, because that's what we're dealing with just about every day.”
Photo credit: LSU Athletics / LSUSports.net