Baseball Notes: Florida’s Pitching, Stark’s Return, Injury News

We got John Cohen on the weekly teleconference a day early, because his Bulldogs have a long trek to Gainesville, Fla., ahead of them. No. 25 MSU (30-18, 12-12 SEC) begins a critical three-game series against No. 6 Florida (36-13, 14-10) on Friday.

Cohen expects some low scores.

“The opportunity to win is going to be obviously one of those 3-2, 4-3 situations,” he said. “I just can’t imagine us having a great opportunity to win a high-scoring game in Gainesville. But that ballpark can at times lend itself to higher scoring. We’re going to need to keep the ball down, we’re going to need to move it, to locate it and do what we do.”

This series should give us some delicious pitching duels, starting Friday with Chris Stratton (9-0, 2.19 ERA) vs. Hudson Randall (5-1, 3.53). Then there’s the Florida bullpen, which Cohen likened to his own.

“So many times in college baseball when you face guys out of the pen, one staff might have generic guys that they all look the same. Florida’s pieces out of the pen, they all look different, and that’s why I think they’re a really good club. They have a guy for whatever situation comes up.”

• Some good injury news: Outfielder/pitcher Taylor Stark could start in left field this weekend. He’s been slowly coming back from a hamstring injury he suffered March 11 and got at-bats for the first time since then last night. He went 2 of 4 with a triple and two RBIs against Valley.

Cohen: “He’s got some thunder in that bat, and he’s a very athletic kid. He can really run. The run part scares you. … He’s a very violent runner when he runs all out. You’re really concerned that he might blow that thing out again.”

• Elsewhere on the injury front, Cohen said center fielder C.T. Bradford will likely have surgery on his right (non-throwing) shoulder. He reinjured it in a collision with teammate Brent Brownlee on April 28.

“I’m not sure the final decision has been totally made. But if I had to guess right now, I would say that he’s going to have some type of surgery,” Cohen said. “It’s one of those things where they tighten it up, and he’s going to be better than he ever was.”

• As for Wes Rea (right shoulder), he entered very late in last night’s 6-3 win over Mississippi Valley State. He had started the first 47 games of the season at first base.

“I think sometimes it feels better than others,” said Cohen. “Our trainers and our doctors are doing a great job of managing his discomfort and pain. It really did him a lot of good to be able to not have to play yesterday. For us to defend and pitch the way we need to, he is such a good defender over there that it’s a big part of what we do.”

• Oh, and let’s not forget about Brownlee and third baseman Daryl Norris, both of whom have a bum knee. Norris sat last night, while Brownlee entered late on defense. Cohen has prescribed a lot of rest for those guys this week so they can be ready for Florida.