Baseball Notes: Cohen on Woodruff, Pollorena, Slauter, Alabama

No. 22 Mississippi State (33-13, 10-11 SEC) is back home this weekend for an important series against Alabama (27-18, 11-9). We spoke with head coach John Cohen about it this morning on his weekly teleconference, and so I’ve got some highlights for you.

As I’ve already written, sophomore right-handed pitcher Brandon Woodruff had season-ending surgery this morning. Cohen couldn’t tell us exactly what the procedure was for, but feels it will be a big help to Woodruff in the long run.

“He had a little surgery (for) something that’s been gnawing at him for a little while,” Cohen said. “I just found out, he came out of it, it went very, very well. It’s not related to his ligament. We think his prognosis is great. He’s not going to pitch again this year, but certainly will be back in the fall. We feel like this is something that’s really going to enhance his career both at Mississippi State and professionally.”

Woodruff will not be able to play in the Cape Cod League this summer, because he’ll be rehabbing.

• As I noted Monday, MSU’s starting rotation remains the same this weekend: Luis Pollorena on Friday, Kendall Graveman on Saturday, and Jacob Lindgren on Sunday. Pollorena (6-2, 3.42 ERA) has done pretty well filling in on Fridays the past five weekends, going 2-2 with a 3.99 ERA in his five SEC starts.

“Luis’ deal is the starting off point,” Cohen said. “If he gets off to a good start, there’s just no telling how good he’s going to pitch on that day. He hasn’t been able to command the baseball early in the outing.

“I’ve said this, it’s amazing, I stand next to Butch (Thompson) in the dugout, and his last 50 pitches are usually better than his first 50. But you’ve got to hope that the first 50 don’t put you in a tough situation.”

• Catcher Mitch Slauter, who fractured his left hand against Texas A&M nearly three weeks ago, probably won’t play this weekend. Cohen was hopeful last week that the senior might be ready, but it looks like another full weekend of work for Nick Ammirati behind the plate.

“We’re going to revisit tomorrow morning, see how it is. I’m really doubtful he’s going to be able to play this weekend just based off the conversations we’ve had and the things he’s tried to do. This is going to be a tough – it’d be very difficult for him to play this weekend.”

• Cohen on Alabama: “Their numbers don’t jump out at you offensively, but it seems like they get key hits and score runs when it matters, especially in league play. It’ll be a great series. Our kids are going to be ready to play, and they know exactly what’s at stake through the last nine games of our conference season.”

• Do the Bulldogs discuss amongst themselves what’s at stake? After all, a strong finish could earn MSU an NCAA regional host berth.

“Our coaching staff’s always discussing with our players about being prepared for the challenge that’s right in front of you. I know that’s coach-speak or cliché, but no, we’re not talking about what’s going on around our league. We’re talking about executing what we need to execute every day.”

• Junior right-handed pitcher Evan Mitchell started at Memphis last week, getting yanked after walking four in one-plus inning of work. Cohen remains upbeat about Mitchell’s future.

“I don’t know, does it happen tomorrow, does it happen two weeks from now, does it happen next year, does it happen in professional baseball? I just feel like it’s going to happen for him. There’s too much athleticism and too much arm strength. He’s going to have to learn how to command the baseball. When that part improves, there’s no telling how good he can be.”

I am the online content coordinator for I also co-host The Memo and Prep Rally podcasts and host the Newsbreak program. Previously at the Journal, I covered Mississippi State athletics (2008-13), high schools (2004-08), and was on the copy desk (2002-04).

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