By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
With SEC play just a week away, Mississippi State’s baseball team finds itself applying bandages to its lineup.
Four starters won’t be on the field this weekend when the No. 23-ranked Bulldogs (12-2) host Mercer (11-3) for a three-game series. Today’s first pitch is 6:30 p.m.
Outfielder Brent Brownlee had surgery Thursday to repair a knee cap injury, and his return date isn’t known.
Third baseman Daryl Norris was injured Wednesday when his knee cap popped out of place during a plate appearance against Penn State, and he’s expected to be out at least four to six weeks.
In the same game, outfielder C.T. Bradford suffered a partially separated right (non-throwing) shoulder while sliding into second base. He will be out one to two weeks.
Brownlee had already missed a few games with his injury, and losing both Bradford and Norris is a big blow for State. Bradford is hitting .309 with a team-leading 13 RBIs, while Norris is batting .375 with 12 RBIs.
Cohen has options, optimism
Coach John Cohen tried to remain upbeat about the raft of injuries.
“Every time a door closes, another one opens,” he said. “We certainly have some options at third base. The outfield thing is a little concerning when you lose two of your starting three outfielders. It starts getting thinner and thinner.”
Some of the options include Demarcus Henderson at third base, Hunter Renfroe in center field (Bradford’s position) and Brandon Woodruff in right (Brownlee’s spot).
Cohen is hopeful Bradford can return for MSU’s SEC-opening series next weekend at LSU. He also hopes sophomore right-handed pitcher Ben Bracewell will be healthy enough to start that first game.
Bracewell (0-0, 0.00 ERA, 101⁄3 innings) left the game after three innings in his last start, on March 2, due to elbow soreness. Cohen said there are no major issues with Bracewell’s elbow, but he’ll just have to work his way back to throwing normally.