No. 21 MSU (27-9, 5-7 SEC) will head out this afternoon in advance of a three-game series at Texas A&M (21-13, 6-6). This morning, we caught up with coach John Cohen via teleconference to get some updates on the team and to discuss the upcoming weekend.
One bit of news: Cohen expects sophomore left-hander Jacob Lindgren (2-1, 3.31 ERA) to be healthy enough to start Sunday. He twisted his ankle fielding a bunt last Sunday against Florida, but Cohen said, “He continues to progress, so hopefully he’ll be ready to go on Sunday.”
Cohen thought Lindgren pitched well before getting hurt, allowing three runs on four hits with two strikeouts and no walks in four-plus innings.
“Having Lindgren back kind of changes the dynamic of our pitching staff, because if you can believe that he’s going to give us five, six innings, that really shortens up the game for our bullpen,” said Cohen, who added that he wants to make sure Lindgren can move around on that ankle when having to defend his position.
“Prior to hurting his ankle, he made some great plays for us against Florida. We’ve got to be able to believe he can do that.”
As for the rest of the rotation, it will be the same as it was the two previous weekends: Senior lefty Luis Pollorena (5-1, 3.29) on Friday, senior righty Kendall Graveman (4-2, 1.99) on Saturday. Here now are some more excerpts from Cohen’s chat.
From opening comment:
“This is the kind of weekend where two out of three could do something dramatic for our club. Our kids know it. That’s your goal. You want to win every single game, but two out of three is I think what everybody tries for probably every weekend in our league. Every single game’s going to be a battle, and we look forward to that opportunity.”
On OF Hunter Renfroe, who hurt his wrist on a defensive play Tuesday against Ole Miss:
“Certainly, Hunter gave us a little bit of a scare, but I just finished hitting this morning with Hunter, and his wrist is fine. That’s not an issue.”
How do you like what you’ve done with closer Jonathan Holder lately, bringing him in before the ninth inning?
“Jonathan’s one of our best pitchers, so you’ve got to use him even if it’s not a traditional save type of sense. He needed the work on Tuesday. He loves to pitch. Even though it wasn’t a save situation statistically, obviously he’s a guy who you want to bring into a ballgame, because you want your best guy. I can totally see that. I can see us using him a little bit more a seventh or eighth inning scenario, especially if we haven’t used him in a previous ballgame.”
On juco transfer OF Derrick Armstrong:
“The great thing about that kid is, when he mis-hits the ball, he’s still dangerous. When he’s on first base, he’s very dangerous. He’s gotten better as a defender in the outfield. A kid is playing center field his whole life and you ask him to play a corner outfield spot, that’s a pretty big adjustment to make, especially at this level. I have a lot of belief in Derrick. I believe he’s going to be a really good player.”
What’s the plan for Brandon Woodruff going forward, especially with no midweek game next week?
“We want to explore his arm situation. It’s just no secret, he’s not a guy that throws the ball 82 mph. His arm just wasn’t turning around. Such a talented kid. In the bullpen before the game, Butch (Thompson) said he was throwing the ball as well as he had thrown in two years. And then in the game he just was short on the backside, and he wasn’t getting down the mound and getting through the baseball. That’s a concern to us. It really wasn’t the fact that they were hitting some pretty hard balls off of him early in the ballgame; that was not the concern as much as his health and the fact he didn’t look like the A-plus version of Brandon Woodruff.”
(Woodruff lasted just 1 1/3 innings in Tuesday’s start against Ole Miss.)
Did he perhaps not recover well from the South Alabama outing last week?
“I don’t know, because the crazy thing about it is he had really solid bullpens. And again, during the bullpen before the game he was really throwing well. So yeah, I don’t know. We’re exploring all the options with that. We’re going to do whatever is in Brandon’s best interest, because we think he’s got a very bright future.”