No. 25 Mississippi State (22-6, 2-4 SEC) is getting ready to head up to No. 15 Arkansas (19-7, 4-2) for a big SEC series this weekend, and we caught up with head coach John Cohen this morning via teleconference to talk about it.
He had some news for us. Catcher Mitch Slauter will not travel with the team this weekend, because he’s in the hospital. The senior has what Cohen termed a “viral throat issue” and had to have a surgical procedure done Wednesday.
“We’ll be a little short-handed in that area, although we have tremendous confidence in Nick Ammirati,” Cohen said.
Ammirati has started 14 games this season. He’ll need a backup, so Cohen is going to bring juco transfer Zach Randolph along, but he hopes not to use him. Doesn’t want to burn Randolph’s redshirt. Cohen expects to have Slauter back in action as early as the middle of next week.
• On the pitching front, Cohen still hasn’t settled on his starting rotation. We do know that Evan Mitchell (0-1, 4.12 ERA) is out of the mix due to his recent struggles – he didn’t record a single out at Kentucky last week. Cohen said that Jacob Lindgren (2-0, 2.76), normally the Friday starter, will be moved to Sunday for this weekend.
UPDATE: MSU has released its pitching rotation, and it doesn’t include Lindgren. Senior left-hander Luis Pollorena (4-0, 2.77) will start Friday’s game, and senior righty Kendall Graveman (2-2, 2.84) will go Saturday, with Sunday’s starter to be determined.
“He had some complications in his bullpen that he threw on Tuesday,” Cohen said of Lindgren. Pitching coach Butch Thompson said Lindgren has been dealing with elbow soreness and is questionable for this weekend.
“Will test and make sure on Saturday,” Thompson said in a text message this afternoon. “Still threw his (bull)pen on Tuesday but trying to buy as much time as we can between starts.”
Here are a few more excerpts from Cohen’s chat.
From opening comment:
“I looked back at our conference games, and you’ve got the two one-run games, you’ve got an extra-inning game, and you think we’re just a couple pitches away from being 4-2, 5-1 in that area. That’s how tight it is. We really want to play well at Arkansas.”
On the Arkansas pitching staff, which has an SEC-best 1.64 ERA:
“Their pitching staff is one of the best in the country. When you look at their arms, obviously (Ryne) Stanek jumps out at you. He was a guy who was throwing the ball as well as anybody we saw a year ago. I really like the way Stanek competes and moves the ball around and changes speeds.”
(Stanek is 2-1 with a 2.35 ERA.)
On MSU’s offense:
“We’re a very capable offensive club, and I think we have not really hit on all cylinders yet, and I’m kind of hoping that’s what’s going to happen in the second half of the year.”