May 10, 2013 11:00:39 AM
Matthew Stevens - firstname.lastname@example.org
STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State University baseball coach John Cohen admits "an ideal situation" would be for senior catcher Mitch Slauter to play.
The problem is making sure Slauter can physically handle the workload.
"I would say it's a day-to-day situation with Mitch's hand," Cohen said. "There's so many small tendons, muscles, and bones in your hand that it's going to a take a long time before all of them completely heal."
Slauter, who suffered a fracture of one of the metacarpal bones in his left hand three weeks ago, surprisingly saw action in two of the three games last weekend in No. 21 MSU's three-game sweep of the University of Alabama at Dudy Noble Field. Slauter took over for starter Nick Ammirati, who is hitting .269 with 18 RBIs. Ammirati has started 10 straight games since Slauter suffered the injury April 14 at Texas A&M University.
"We know Nick has been great in this period and what we've asked him to do is unfair, but we're really proud of the way he's stepped up in Mitch's absence," Cohen said.
Last weekend was the first time since the injury that Slauter was on the active
27-man roster. He'll be on the active travel roster this weekend when MSU (36-13, 13-11 Southeastern Conference) plays the University of Mississippi (33-16, 12-12) in a three-game SEC series. Game one will be at 6:30 Friday in Oxford. Slauter's status for the series is uncertain.
"It's a get to the park and then ask him how the hand feels on that particular day type of thing," Cohen said. "We'll have to evaluate how the hand feels and what he can do for us on a day-to-day basis."
Slauter caught the final two innings Saturday and laid down a sacrifice bunt to help set up a walk-off single by freshman Jacob Robson.
Cohen and his coaches are concerned about Slauter's ability to help MSU offensively. The Barton (Kan.) Community College transfer has only two hits in the past two months.
"We have serious concerns even after a week of practice that his ability to handle the bat is something where we feel comfortable putting him in the lineup," Cohen said. "It's something I didn't feel good about last weekend, and that hasn't changed."
Now that sophomore starting pitcher Brandon Woodruff is out for the season following a surgical procedure on his elbow, Slauter's injury is the only one MSU has to deal with as it approaches the postseason.
"We've been extremely fortunate Mitch is the only significant injury we're dealing with, and once we get him back, we'll be the healthiest this time has been all season," Cohen said.
MSU players shine in the classroom
The Bulldogs backed up their success on the diamond this spring with a 3.25 grade-point average in the classroom in the just-concluded spring semester. Twenty-four of 34 players earned GPAs of 3.00 or better.
Pitchers Trevor Fitts and Chad Girodo and catcher Zack Randolph recorded 4.0 GPAs. They were joined on the President's Scholar List by infielder Nick Flair and Hunter Renfroe.
Infielders Adam Frazier and Sam Frost, catcher Daniel Garner, designated hitter Trey Porter, catcher Mitch Slauter, and pitcher Brandon Woodruff earned Dean's Scholar List status.
Girodo and catcher Nick Ammirati will graduate this spring, while four other players are positioned to complete their undergraduate degree work later this year.
MSU's scholarship players finished the 2012-13 school year with a 3.30 composite GPA, believed to be the highest school year-long GPA in program history.