Alex Bregman recently fielded a phone call from Jordan Pacheco, a catcher for the Colorado Rockies.
Pacheco, a friend of Bregman’s and fellow native of Albuquerque, N.M., had heard about Bregman’s recent hitting slump. He called LSU’s star shortstop to offer encouragement and ask just how bad the slump was.
“What’s the number?” Pacheco asked Bregman.
Bregman, 4 for his past 41, told him.
“That’s it!?” Pacheco fired back, according to Bregman.
“I’ve been through a lot worse than that,” Pacheco told Bregman, “and I’m in the big leagues.”
So maybe it’s not that bad.
Could the same be said for LSU’s recent four-game losing skid? Maybe.
No one’s pushing that mythical panic button, and the sky’s not falling either, LSU players and coach Paul Mainieri said.
The Tigers (20-8-1, 3-5-1 Southeastern Conference) are in the midst of their worst spell in nearly three years, having been swept at Florida and losing at Tulane. Three series into a 10-series conference schedule, they’re in last place in the SEC West.
They’ve tumbled out of the top 10 in three of the five major baseball polls, and they’re No. 38 in the first release of the official NCAA RPI.
LSU needs a win over McNeese State (16-10) on Wednesday to avoid its longest winless streak since May 2010.
All of it has resulted in a full inbox and mailbox for Mainieri. Yes, he said, some are of the messages are of the nasty kind.
“Sometimes they’re a little short-sided, but people feel like they need to express themselves, so they do. I don’t take them too serious,” he said.
So what’s the fix for a squad in an offensive funk and one that has uncertainty at the No. 3 pitching spot?
For now, Mainieri hopes inserting freshman Jake Fraley into the everyday lineup helps. It’s a move that he has hinted at for the past couple of days.
Other than that, Bregman’s bat must get going.
“The world will be good if Alex Bregman starts hitting,” Mainieri said Monday.
Bregman spoke to reporters Tuesday for the first time in a week. Mainieri made him off-limits over the weekend.
He didn’t record a hit in the three-game series at Florida and is 0 for his past 15.
“First off, it’s baseball,” Bregman said. “Anyone who’s played the game has gone through it. It’s part of the game. You’ve got to deal with it. I’m not discouraged at all. I don’t think our team is discouraged at all.”
Bregman said he has received several phone calls from family members, friends and baseball players around the country, all of them offering positive re-enforcement.
He hasn’t received negative feedback from fans or anyone else. It’s all been positive.
For Mainieri, that hasn’t been the case.
“We’ve got a lot of passionate fans out there,” he said. “I’ve always said that the only thing worse than criticism is apathy. You can’t take the good without the bad.”
Mainieri’s been here before.
He has shared with his team the comeback story of 2008, a squad that was 6-11-1 in the SEC before winning its final 12 conference games to win the SEC West.
Those Tigers eventually advanced to Omaha.
“I expect us to finish strong,” Mainieri said. “I believe we’re on the verge of greatness.”
The hitting woes don’t extend only to Bregman.
Second-year starters Sean McMullen, Mark Laird and Christian Ibarra are hitting between .265 and .274.
Reasons for the skids are unclear, aside from the dropping offensive numbers throughout college baseball.
LSU is hitting .273 as a team, and that ranks in the middle of the conference.
“We have some areas of concern no question about it. Every team does. Nobody’s perfect,” Mainieri said. “We’re in a little bit of a hole. I wish we were 4-5 or 5-4 instead of 3-5-1. We’ve got a long way to go.”
“They say, ‘You’re never as bad as you think you are, and you’re never as good as you think you are, either,’ ” pitcher Cody Glenn said. “It was a bad week. The sky’s definitely staying up. It’s not falling on us.”