Mississippi State catcher Mitch Slauter (left) will not make the trip to Arkansas and LHP Jacob Lindgren (right) is being further evaluated after experiencing elbow tenderness in a bullpen session Tuesday Photo by: MSU athletics
March 28, 2013 1:05:39 PM
STARKVILLE - Mississippi State University knows it will be without its starting catcher for the entire weekend at the University of Arkansas but now could be without its ace pitcher in a critical series as well.
MSU coach John Cohen confirmed in his weekly teleconference that senior catcher Mitch Slauter will not be on the active roster this weekend when the team leaves tonight for Fayetteville, Ark., after having an emergency surgical procedure done Wednesday to clear his air passages in the throat area.
Slauter was checked in for precautionary reasons at the University of Kentucky hospital during last weekend's games for what he and and coaching staff thought was a viral infection that resembled strep throat but the condition worsened this week to point of needing this recent emergency procedure.
"That is going to hurt our club but hopefully we can rise to the occasion on this," Cohen said Thursday. "Mitch is still in the hospital and had a viral throat issue that required a little bit of surgery. We think in the long term he'll be fine but it's just bad timing."
The plan for MSU's catching situation is to have senior Nick Ammirati catch all three games against the No. 17 Razorbacks this weekend, something he's never been asked to do since arriving on campus, and the emergency option is junior Zach Randolph making his first SEC road trip since transferring from Itawamba Community College.
Randolph, a first-team MACJC all-state selection in 2012, will not be used unless Ammirati gets an injury due to the fact the Bulldogs want to preserve his redshirt status and therefore, his final two years of eligibility when Slauter and Ammirati graduate.
"We're a little short-handed in that area but we have tremendous confidence in Nick Ammirati," Cohen said. "
Cohen then announced among the weekend pitching rotation changes already occurring that sophomore left-handed ace Jacob Lindgren is being pushed back to at least Sunday against the Razorbacks after having what the MSU coach called "complications" during his Tuesday bullpen session with MSU pitching coach Butch Thompson.
"We have still not decided who we'll pitch tomorrow (but) probably leaning toward a (Luis) Pollorena and Kendall Graveman at this point," Cohen said. "We'll probably make that decision a little bit later on this morning."
In an interview Thursday afternoon with The Dispatch MSU Sports Blog, Pollorena (4-0, 1.85) gave indications the Friday night start would his calling it an "opportunity he's excited about" after speaking with the MSU coaching staff this week.
The Dispatch MSU Sports Blog has now learned those complications include tightness and tenderness in his left elbow leading to Thompson immediately shutting down Lindgren's bullpen session until further evaluation could be made.
Lindgren has not missed a start this season since taking the opening day nod and that has included coming back from a severe bone bruise two weekends ago to make the first start of Southeastern Conference play against Louisiana State University.
The current plan is for Lindgren (2-2, 3.18) to throw from flat ground with Ammirati on Saturday either before or after MSU's second contest at Baum Stadium and then the coaching staff will make a final determination if Lindgren can take the mound. However, MSU has officially made the Sunday start "TBD" when the SEC pitching matchups were announced Thursday afternoon.
Cohen did say Thursday morning that sophomore right-hander Trevor Fitts (3-0, 3.29) will make the travel roster for the first time this season after having a great bullpen session Tuesday but it is unknown what the emergency plan is if Lindgren is unable to make the Sunday start. The candidates for MSU in an emergency situation are still junior Evan Mitchell, sophomore Brandon Woodruff, sophomore Will Cox or even Fitts in his first career SEC start.
"We just have too many arms for somebody to not step forward with an opportunity," Cohen said. "I think we do have some depth and some names that might not have registered yet with the fans and media that will have the opportunity for us. On good ball clubs that happens where guys in the middle of the year do well that haven't received a lot of early playing time."
All of the Dispatch MSU Sports Blog readers: feel free to follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/matthewcstevens for up-to-date Mississippi State coverage.