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MSU 's Lindgren aiming for Friday return to the mound against LSU

 

Matthew Stevens

 

STARKVILLE -- All signs point to Mississippi State sophomore left-handed pitcher Jacob Lindgren being healthy enough for the Friday night start against Louisiana State University. 

 

The results of Lindgren's MRI scan Monday afternoon revealed a bone bruise but no structural damage or ligament damage in his left knee. 

 

Lindgren had a line drive ricochet off his left knee just nine pitches into his outing Friday night. The Bulldogs ace needed help to be carried off the field but communicated Sunday to the MSU coaching staff that he felt he could run on his leg. 

 

After the 4-2 victory Friday night all eyes were on Lindgren as the former 12th round pick by the Chicago Cubs out of St. Stanislaus High School, was using crutches to get around from a precautionary standpoint.  

 

MSU head coach John Cohen said the encouragement with the injury is the line drive went off the side of the knee instead of directly off the patella. The sophomore left-hander had a x-ray late Friday night that was negative of any fractures. 

 

"That was a frightening moment for us," Cohen said Friday. "I'm not a doctor and so we'll know more tomorrow after an MRI but those things are really scary." 

 

Lindgren (2-0, 0.98) went through the first two stages of his weekly routine before having the MRI scan Monday afternoon. On Sunday, he completed his monitored weight training session that consisted of all upper body work in order to protect the leg and knee from any further damage. Lindgren then did a short long tossing session in the Palmeiro Center off flat ground. 

 

"We feel like we will get a good report from the doctor and if we do, I certainly have a good feeling about Jacob Lindgren getting the ball on Friday night," Cohen said after Sunday's loss to the University of Central Arkansas. 

 

The Dispatch MSU Sports Blog spoke to Bulldogs pitching coach Butch Thompson Monday afternoon and learned the plan for Lindgren is for him to throw a complete bullpen session. Lindgren will likely throw in the morning in front of Thompson before No. 13 MSU leaves for Trustmark Park to play the University of Southern Mississippi in a 6:30 p.m. start. 

 

This bullpen session with Thompson on Tuesday is likely the final hurdle to convincing all parties involved that he'll get the Friday night start against No. 7 LSU (15-1) and their ace right-handed pitcher Aaron Nola (2-0, 2.77) in the conference opener for each team. 

 

In the last 11 games, Lindgren is the only MSU starting pitcher who has only gotten out of the sixth inning in a single outing. MSU (17-2) has averaged only 4.46 innings per start on the mound this season partially due to inefficiency by the individual pitcher and also because Thompson has wanted to conserve the amount of wear on the weekend rotation in the first month of the season. 

 

Lindgren had to wait until May 25th to get his first collegiate start last year in a SEC Tournament win over LSU where he struggled early but allowed just three runs over five hits in 4 2/3 innings. Lindgren gave up two runs in a 36-pitch inning against the Tigers but rallied to keep MSU in the game where they'd eventually win 4-3. 

 

"Jacob is a competitor and of course didn't have his best stuff early on by missing out of the zone so badly," MSU catcher Mitch Slauter said after the win. "He was just out there minimizing damage and eventually realized that he was battling his butt off against a great team." 

 

Since that performance in Hoover, Lindgren was excited to see the LSU game opened conference play for the Bulldogs at Dudy Noble Field. The sophomore admitted in a preseason interview he mentally circled the March 15 date on the calendar as a goal for him to be on the mound against the Tigers program. 

 

Lindgren told The Dispatch last year he turned down a six-figure signing bonus to attend MSU after being drafted by the Cubs two years ago. As a senior in high school, the Bay St. Louis native was 8-0 with a 1.09 ERA and collected 128 strikeouts. 

 

"There's obviously a lot of LSU fans where I'm from and it was a big deal that I choose Mississippi State when I did so to get the start against them on a Friday night this year would be a dream come true," Lindgren said.

 

 

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