Mississippi State senior catcher Mitch Slauter is out with a broken left hand. Photo by: MSU athletics
April 18, 2013 3:10:57 PM
STARKVILLE - Mississippi State University must be without its starting catcher for the second time this season.
When the Bulldogs open up its Southeastern Conference weekend series against Auburn University tonight, Mitch Slauter will not be on the active roster after suffering a severe injury Sunday at Texas A&M University. Slauter, who missed four games two weeks ago with a cyst in this throat that required minor surgery, was hit by a pitch Sunday in a 15-4 victory Sunday to secure a road sweep in College Station, Texas that forced him to leave the rest of the game. MSU coach confirmed Wednesday afternoon his senior catcher suffered a fracture of one of the metacarpal bones in his left hand and will miss "at least" three weeks of action for the bone break to heal. The graphic to the top left shows a diagram of a hand and the five metacarpal bones, one of which is fractured on Slauter's hand.
"We are confident that Mitch will be back in time for the postseason but the x-ray confirmed that he broke that metacarpal bone in his glove hand and he'll be out for at least three weeks," Cohen said.
In the next three weekends, the plan for MSU is have senior backup Nick Ammirati catch all three games of a SEC, In case of an emergency junior Zach Randolph will be added to the active roster but he Bulldogs would prefer not to use him in order to preserve his redshirt season after the Amory native transferred from Itawamba Community College.
"We'll activate Zach as a precaution but also know that we have Hunter Renfore, who was a high school catcher, as a option as well if we have to go that route," Cohen said. "The plan is to have Nick all three games though no doubt."
While the consistency, leadership and comfort level of Slauter with MSU's pitching staff are all considered high levels, the numbers suggest the drop off from Slauter to Ammirati is not that significant on other offense or defense.
Here's the 2013 SEC offensive numbers of the two MSU senior catchers:
Slauter: .185 BA, 3 RBIs, 5 BB, 3 HBP, 7 Ks, .371 OBP in 27 at-bats in 9 starts
Ammirati: .259 BA, 1 HR, 7 RBIs, .276 OBP in 6 starts
The two catchers at MSU have committed just four total errors this season in over 343 chances this season but Ammirati has thrown out over 20 percent more base runners this season than Slauter as Bulldogs coaches have consistently praised Ammirati's time from home plate to second base in scrimmage work and practices.
".Nick showed up this fall, and to his credit he said, I'm going to win an opportunity to play' and I think he has," Cohen said. "He's worked so hard, and he's become a different guy. His mentality's a little different. He's by far and away our best thrower. His pop times at second, his ability to get the ball in and out of the glove, he's by far and away our best guy there. The ability to utilize him versus a running club is very important, and we're going to have that availability."
The only issue for Cohen and MSU staff this weekend and for as long as Slauter is out is the inability to do a double switch at the catcher position if they try and maintain a redshirt for Randolph. Cohen said junior outfielder Hunter Renfroe could also be used as an emergency option at catcher as the Bulldogs slugger was recruited and spent his first season on campus as a backup catcher.
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