As No. 14 Mississippi State preps for the NCAA regional it’s hosting, health is not a major concern. That’s a pleasant departure from last year, when injuries to key players hindered the Bulldogs all season.
Pitcher Brandon Woodruff has been out for a while, but otherwise, the only real health concern for MSU is center fielder C.T. Bradford. He’s missed the last three games with a muscle strain in the hip flexor region, and coach John Cohen has been taking it slow in bringing him back. Will he be available this weekend? Cohen said Monday he’ll do everything he can to make sure it’s so.
“He’s going to spend a lot of time getting ready and rehabbing,” Cohen said. “If it means him not practicing as much this week to get him in the lineup, that’s what we are going to do. He’s a really important piece to what we do.”
Bradford was one of those players beset by injury last season. This year, the junior had started all 57 games up until he was pulled from the lineup for State’s SEC Tournament game against South Carolina on Wednesday. He’s batting .300 with 22 RBIs, 42 runs scored, a .375 on-base percentage and seven steals. He’s made just one error in the field, and Bradford has also been an asset on the mound. In nine relief appearances, he’s 0-1 with a 1.80 ERA. He’s struck out four and walked three in five innings of work.
Catcher Mitch Slauter has been battling injury of late, coming back from a fractured left hand he suffered during the Texas A&M series in mid-April. Since returning to action May 4, Slauter’s played in nine games with three starts, and he told us last week that he was feeling “close to 85, 90 percent.” He’s mainly battling some soreness, which he said will be with him for a while. Senior Nick Ammirati has done strong work in Slauter’s stead.
“I was asking about that this morning when we were hitting. I feel like Mitch is getting really close to 100 percent,” Cohen said.
Outside of Bradford and Slauter, Cohen said MSU is simply dealing with normal end-of-season bumps and bruises.
“You want to do enough to make sure you’re ready for Friday, but you also don’t want to blow anything out at the same time,” he said.