LSU’s Cody Glenn to start against Southeastern Louisiana on Wednesday after almost getting kicked off team last season
Greg Glenn remembers his son sitting in front of the family’s television last spring in Houston cheering on LSU as it played in the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional.
“He wanted to be there,” Greg Glenn said Tuesday.
Cody Glenn’s status on the team was uncertain then. He had been suspended for what he now calls “a silly mistake” and was told by coach Paul Mainieri to “go home” two days before the regional began.
The coach nearly dismissed Glenn from the team.
Said Mainieri: “I was pretty close.”
Glenn will get his first start of the season Wednesday when LSU (3-0) travels to play Southeastern Louisiana at Alumni Field.
It has the makings of being the Tigers’ toughest test of the young season — on the road in a sold out park against a team that finished as one of the top 60 nationally last year, according to RPI rankings.
Into this pressure-packed position, Mainieri is thrusting Glenn, a guy whose mistake a few months ago nearly cost him a spot on the team.
No one will reveal Glenn’s mistake. His father, Mainieri and Glenn all declined to give details about “the incident.”
They don’t hide their feelings, though.
“We were disappointed and hurt like Cody was,” said Greg Glenn, the head of school for Westbury Christian, a private, Christian school in Houston.
“It was awful,” Mainieri said Tuesday. “Getting ready to play the biggest game of the year, I was forced to take some drastic action. I was upset, angry, disappointed. I wasn’t sure that he’d even be back at that point.”
Glenn apologized to the team, they voted in favor of his return and the rebuilding process began.
Has he completed it? Not exactly.
“How do you put a stamp on when does a kid actually mature and become a man?,” Mainieri asked. “It’s a gradual process and it takes a while.”
Mainieri, even before this season, still expressed disappointment in Glenn for the incident. It’s why Glenn is being forced, the coach said, to win a weekend starting spot — something most expect him to do.
Glenn’s on-field performance has never been questioned. A 6-foot-4, 195-pounder, Glenn went 7-3 with a 2.68 ERA as one of LSU’s weekend starters in 2013. He has a nasty sinker, hitters say.
His maturity level had been the issue. His seriousness was a problem.
Even before the incident, things were inconsistent Mainieri said.
That’s not necessarily the case any longer. Pitching coach Alan Dunn and Mainieri have watched Glenn enough in the fall and through preseason practice to realize that
He’s no longer cutting corners during drills, looking for shortcuts at practice.
There’s no half-hearted play, Mainieri said.
“When I hear he’s doing everything with the full effort and attention, that’s the difference,” Mainieri said. “The way he’s pitched in the intrasquad, the way he’s gone about his work ethic, way he’s doing in school … when I talk to the team, the way he stares me in the eye and pays attention, are indicators to me that he’s growing up.”
Greg Glenn sees the change.
So does his son.
“I’ve definitely taken all areas of my life, trying to take all areas of my life more seriously,” Cody Glenn said. “Trying to get focused in all areas of my life.”
Greg Glenn said Mainieri has challenged his son to be a leader this season. Cody has accepted that.
Even though he doesn’t discuss baseball much with his son, Greg has gathered this: Cody is more excited about this year than any he’s ever seen.
The incident was a learning experience.
“He’s better because of it,” Greg said.
Not just off the field.
Glenn’s maturation has helped with his release point.
“It’s been much more consistent,” Dunn said. “It gives him the ability to make more quality pitches in the strike zone and get hitters out in the strike zone. He’s a guy that has to do that.”
Glenn doesn’t have the speed of some others on staff. He relies on a two-seam fastball and a sinker that ranges from 80-88 mph.
It’s a pitch — the sinker — that he has complete command of, says shortstop Alex Bregman. It’s his bread and butter, and it induces dozens of ground balls.
Hitters can’t seem to launch it, Dunn said.
“I don’t think anybody’s taken him out of the yard,” Bregman said referring to LSU hitters in practice. “It moves that much.”
It’s better this year than in past seasons. That’s no coincidence.
“Listen,” Greg Glenn said, “when you have a setback like that, it’s so much bigger than baseball. I think that’s opened the lens up for Cody and that’s why he’s better now than this time last year.”