Finally, 360 days after his last appearance, Nick Routt took the mound for Mississippi State on Wednesday night. The junior left-hander, who suffered an elbow injury early last season and had a protracted recovery, started and pitched 3.1 innings Wednesday against Lipscomb.
In the Bulldogs' 14-4 win, Routt allowed one run (earned) on two hits, struck out four, and walked none. He was kept on a pitch count – 50 to 60 – and wound up officially with 47 pitches to 11 batters.
"He really threw his fastball well," coach John Cohen said this morning. "He had very good command of his fastball. It was a really good start for him. He threw (47) pitches, and I think it's a good starting point for him. I think we're going to try and progress him a little as time goes on."
Cohen said Routt felt good this morning, but noted that it's too early to gauge what kind of physical effect the outing had on Routt's body. It should help that 85-90 percent of his pitches – according to Cohen's estimation – were fastballs.
"He really didn't go to a lot of changeups or breaking balls. That's really going to tell the tale later on," said Cohen. "When you get into competitive situations with a little more changeup and breaking ball involvement, that's a little more wear and tear on your arm. We need to see how he responds to that."
Once a weekend starter, Routt must again find his place on this pitching staff. He's not likely to return to his old role – not right away. His next test will be to throw 50-60 pitches of live batting practice early next week, probably Tuesday (MSU has no midweek game).
"If we feel like he's progressing, there's a possible role for him on the weekend."
• As for this weekend, MSU (14-4) opens SEC play at Vanderbilt, the No. 2 team in the nation. Vandy is 17-1 and has won 10 in a row. Cohen said his rotation will be Devin Jones on Friday, Chris Stratton on Saturday and TBA on Sunday (Evan Mitchell or C.T. Bradford, more than likely).