OMAHA, Neb. — Pitchers haven’t had much luck slowing LSU second baseman JaCoby Jones in recent weeks, but minor health issues have.
Jones missed the Tigers’ practice at TD Ameritrade Park on Friday afternoon because of flu-like symptoms. A similar problem kept him out of the opener of a Southeastern Conference series April 19 at Alabama.
In between, Jones was limited to one pinch-running appearance in an eight-game stretch because of a sore wrist.
“We expect him to be OK, hopefully by (Saturday) so he’s able to practice,” coach Paul Mainieri said. “Certainly we expect him to be OK by Sunday.”
The Tigers play their College World Series opener against UCLA at 7 p.m. Sunday.
Mainieri said Jones was stricken about 11 p.m. Thursday and slept in Friday morning. He was allowed to accompany the team to the ballpark for a team photo in the afternoon but returned to the hotel as his teammates practiced.
Jones rode to the stadium in a separate vehicle from his teammates and his roommate, third baseman Christian Ibarra, was moved to a separate room to minimize the chance of anyone else getting sick.
Jones, who was batting .188 at the end of March, is batting .299 and went 5-for-7 with a home run in LSU’s sweep of Oklahoma in the Baton Rouge Super Regional last weekend.
The first CWS news conference provided an example of how expectations vary. Mainieri was asked how it felt to “finally” get back to Omaha after a three-year absence.
“Finally?” Mainieri said with a laugh. “It’s been a whole three years.”
But Mainieri got the point.
“Hey, that’s what you sign up for at LSU,” he said. “Nobody pulled the wool over my eyes when I took this job. I knew what I was getting into, and that is the standard. I can tell you right now, if you’re afraid, you don’t go to LSU as a player or as a coach.”
Mainieri was joined on the dais by the other coaches who have teams playing Sunday — UCLA’s John Savage, who is here for a second consecutive season; North Carolina’s Mike Fox, who was here three years ago; and N.C. State’s Elliott Avent, who put things in perspective.
“Paul, you said you hadn’t been here in three years, right?” he said. “Mike, you haven’t been here in two years and, Savage, you haven’t been here since last year. Well, N.C. State hasn’t been here in 45 years.”
Savage acknowledged the fan deficit his team will face.
“LSU has the best fans in college baseball,” he said. “I think anybody would say that. They’ve got the biggest support, one of the most beautiful stadiums in the country. ... I think it’s great that LSU is here. It means a lot to college baseball. There are no other fans like LSU fans. … It’s a privilege to play against them.”
LSU fans attending the College World Series can find The Advocate at three locations as long as the Tigers are playing.
Papers will be delivered to the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Omaha Downtown (LSU’s team hotel); the Harrah’s Hotel and Casino in Council Bluffs, Iowa; and Barrett’s Barleycorn Pub and Grill in Omaha.
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