LSU notebook: Kramer Robertson key to Tigers’ lineup

It’s all up to Kramer Robertson.

Entering the final week of LSU’s season-opening, nonconference schedule, one player’s performance may determine the everyday lineup.

Robertson, a freshman second baseman, somewhat controls LSU’s starting group with his play, Paul Mainieri said Monday.

The coach has jostled his lineup at a few key starting spots: second base, first base, catcher and designated hitter. He expects that shuffling to continue for a few more games, but Robertson’s performance swings the pendulum.

“We’ll see as we go forward if Kramer’s ready to play on an everyday basis,” Mainieri said.

If Robertson plays well, he’ll remain the starter at second and Conner Hale will stay at first. Tyler Moore and Kade Scivicque would exchange the DH role, and Chris Chinea and Scivicque would alternate at catcher.

If he plays poorly, Mainieri will move Hale back to second, and Moore, Chinea and Scivicque would rotate at first/catcher with the DH role likely being held by Scivicque or Moore.

When the Tigers (9-2) meet Northwestern State (6-4) at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday in Natchitoches, Mainieri plans to start Robertson and have Scivicque catch and Moore DH.

Robertson, the son of Baylor women’s basketball coach Kim Mulkey, has been a “spark plug” who has more range and better feet than Hale, Mainieri said. The downside: “Kramer’s probably a little more erratic,” the coach said.

In Robertson’s first career start in the third game of the season, he scored three runs and made a host of strong defensive plays. One was so spectacular — a sliding flyout in foul territory — that it landed him on SportsCenter’s “Top 10” plays.

Robertson, though, struggled in the loss to Louisiana-Lafayette. He had a base-running blunder and was thrown out at home plate. He also bobbled a routine groundball for an error.

“I have not hidden my enthusiasm about the kid,” Mainieri said. “He’s a great ballplayer. He just needs consistency and instincts for the game to develop.”

Closing up

Junior Joe Broussard has surpassed Kurt McCune in the race for LSU’s closer role, Mainieri said.

Broussard, a hard-throwing righty from Gretna, has pitched five innings. He has given up two hits, struck out four and hasn’t allowed a run.

Before this year, Broussard hadn’t pitched since the closing games of the 2012 season. He missed last season while recovering from Tommy John surgery.

“I just like his stuff,” Mainieri said of Broussard. “When you get into the SEC schedule, a guy throwing 93-94 (mph) with a pretty good curveball gives you a better chance in the end. I don’t think Kurt’s done anything wrong.”

Lagniappe

The top six spots in Mainieri’s batting order are settled, he said. They are Sean McMullen, Mark Laird, Alex Bregman, Hale, Scivicque and Christian Ibarra. … Mainieri makes his team’s schedule. So why play on Mardi Gras night? He did it so the Tigers could go on a somewhat lengthy bus trip and not have school early the next day. LSU does not have school until after noon Wednesday for Mardi Gras break. “I had a good friend call me Ebenezer Scrooge” for the game’s placement on Fat Tuesday, Mainieri said.