For the second straight series, LSU will head into the weekend with uncertainty surrounding its Game 3 starter.
Kyle Bouman remains questionable for this weekend’s series at Florida, a three-game set that begins Friday in Gainesville, Fla. He’s still recovering from what coach Paul Mainieri has termed a “nasty” ankle sprain he suffered at practice last Monday.
Mainieri won’t announce a starter for Sunday’s game until after Saturday’s game, he said Thursday before the team departed for Florida.
Bouman missed Sunday’s game against Georgia with the ankle sprain. LSU (20-5-1, 3-2-1 Southeastern Conference) started reliever Kurt McCune in that game and played five other relievers in a 2-2 tie with the Bulldogs.
Bouman threw a bullpen session Thursday afternoon, and it “went well,” Mainieri said. The coach, though, has concerns: Can Bouman field? And will his ankle be sore after the bullpen session?
The pitcher’s ankle was discolored and still swollen earlier this week. He’ll perform some agility drills Friday in Gainesville.
Mainieri sounded somewhat doubtful that a fully healthy Bouman would pitch Sunday.
“Even if he’s 100-percent healthy, he hasn’t pitched in a couple of weeks,” Mainieri said. “We’ll see who’s available.”
He has options.
The bullpen has been solid through nearly the first half of the regular season. Before Tuesday’s game, LSU’s top six relievers had an ERA of 0.63 when throwing in relief.
McCune, Zac Person and Cody Glenn are options to start Sunday’s game.
Florida (16-9, 3-3 SEC) also has not announced a Sunday starter.
Florida first baseman Zack Powers has been suspended four games and will miss this weekend’s series against LSU after being a part of a bench-clearing scuffle earlier this week in the Gators’ win over Florida State.
Powers has started 10 of the Gators’ 25 games and is batting .171.
Powers was a key figure in the tussle with Florida. He shoved FSU left fielder D.J. Stewart after Stewart collided with UF pitcher Danny Young as a ground ball dribbled down the first-base line.
Young was moving to tag Stewart out. The benches cleared, and the teams got into a shoving match at first base.
Mainieri saw replays of the sparking play and the scuffle between the teams.
“It was an awkward play,” Mainieri said. “I don’t know if it’s really crystal clear who was at fault.”
The NCAA also suspended Stewart for four games.
LSU reliever and Runnels grad Alden Cartwright nearly fully recovered from a muscle strain in his shoulder and should be available to pitch this weekend at Florida.
“He’s back to virtually 100 percent,” Mainieri said of Cartwright, who has struck out 10, walked two and allowed six hits in 10 innings of relief.
Cartwright was healthy enough to pitch Tuesday at Tulane, the coach said. He suffered the muscle strain in his deltoid in Game 2 at Vanderbilt.
Florida is flipping its weekend starters for the LSU series.
On Friday against ace Aaron Nola (5-0, 0.22), the Gators will start Eric Handold (3-2, 3.18), a sophomore who pitched on Saturdays during the first two SEC series of the season.
Florida will start Logan Shore on Saturday against LSU freshman Jared Poché. Shore has started Friday in the first two SEC series and has the best ERA (1.15) of any starting pitcher on the team.
“That surprised me to see that,” Mainieri said. “Every year they have phenomenal arms, so I don’t worry about who’s pitching which game. I was just surprised (because) Shore’s been pitching Fridays for a few weeks.”
Freshmen Cade Stone, Dakota Dean and Jarret DeHart were not part of the travel roster. LSU traveled all 13 of its pitchers, Mainieri said. ... LSU has a 4 p.m. curfew for Sunday’s game against the Gators. No inning can start after that time. The game starts at noon. The Tigers must catch a charter flight. ... There is a 70-percent chance of rain Friday in Gainesville and a high chance as well Saturday. Severe thunderstorms are in the forecast Saturday.