LSU baseball: Mainieri has confidence in Alex Bregman

Paul Mainieri’s face was beet red.

LSU’s four-game losing streak wasn’t behind it. Neither was Florida’s sweep of his team last weekend.

Mainieri had a private batting session with shortstop Alex Bregman on Monday morning in the scorching spring sun.

“I thought it was his best BP he’s taken all year,” Mainieri said. “He was hitting balls over the stands. I hadn’t even been seeing him hit balls in the stands in batting practice all year.”

Is Bregman back? Mainieri says he will be soon.

LSU’s sophomore star is in the worst slump of his career. He went 0 for 12 in Gainesville, is 0 for his last 15 and is 4 for his last 41, a skid that spans 11 games.

With Mississippi State on the horizon this weekend, the Tigers (20-8-1, 3-5-1 Southeastern Conference) need Bregman’s once-big bat.

Mainieri said it’ll return, starting against McNeese State (16-10) on Wednesday at Alex Box.

“I just feel like come this Wednesday he’s going to break out of it, and he’s going to go on a tear and carry it into the weekend and beyond,” Mainieri said. “He’s too good of a hitter. He’s too good of a player for this to continue.”

Mainieri has tried ways to ignite a guy who hit .369 and was a freshman All-American last year. For the first time in his LSU career, Bregman batted somewhere other than the No. 3 hole last week.

Mainieri played him at the leadoff spot and in the No. 2 slot. The coach said Monday that Bregman will return to the No. 3 hole and likely remain there.

The coach also banned Bregman from media interviews last Friday. He lifted the ban Monday.

LSU players were off Monday. They’ll speak to the media Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Mainieri hopes his star returns to form.

“If he doesn’t hit, we’re going to have a tough time having a good year,” Mainieri said. “I believe he’s going to hit.”

Cartwright gets starting nod

Alden Cartwright, a true freshman, will get the first start of his college career Wednesday against McNeese State, Mainieri said Monday.

Cartwright has recovered from a muscle strain he suffered more than two weeks ago in the series loss at Vanderbilt. He faced one batter in Sunday’s 11-7 loss to Florida, his first appearance since the injury.

Cartwright has emerged as a go-to middle reliever. He’s allowed just one earned run in 10.1 innings, has struck out 10 and walked two.

Mainieri plans to throw several relievers in Wednesday’s game.

“I don’t want him to get all nervous and feel like he’s got to change anything,” Mainieri said. “I just want him to go out there, pump some strikes and get us through an inning or two and turn the ball over to the next guy.”

Bouman ‘questionable’

LSU starting pitcher Kyle Bouman is “very much questionable” for this weekend’s three-game series against Mississippi State, Mainieri said Monday.

Bouman is still recovering from a sprained ankle he suffered at practice two weeks ago. The coach hopes to get Bouman some work in Wednesday’s game against McNeese.

Bouman was thought to be healthy enough to possibly throw in Sunday’s game against Florida. He did throw in the bullpen, Mainieri said, with “fairly decent success.”

“Still bothered him. Still didn’t move real great,” the coach said.

Tigers plummet in polls

LSU tumbled in all of the major baseball polls after an 0-4 week, falling an average of eight spots in each.

The Tigers were in the top 10 in each before the winless week. They fell out of the top 10 in three polls (No. 20, 16, 14). They’re ranked No. 9 and No. 10 in the other two.