HOOVER, Ala. — Sophomore catcher Saul Garza was supposed bring an added level of power to LSU's lineup along with being an everyday catcher.
Then he tore his meniscus in fall training and everything went awry for the junior college transfer. Garza missed games in the early part of the LSU's season and was only used as a designated hitter before he started catching again in March.
But the next problem was at the plate not behind it. His batting average hovered around .200 for most of the season before the light finally came on in LSU's final series against Auburn.
Garza had 20 hits on the season before the series and has 14 in the seven games since. He's had six multi-hit games during that span as well, pushing his average to .286.
He's also caught all four games for LSU in the Southeastern Conference.
"I don't know if I can catch him five days in a row," said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. "We'll see how he feels. He probably won't let me even consider not catching him. He's been chomping at the bit to become the starting catcher and he doesn't want to give it up I'm sure.
"And the pitchers love throwing to him because he's got a wide body and gives them a good target, and he blocks everything. We'll see tomorrow, and he's been playing great and that's a big reason why the team is playing better."
Garza said one of things that's changed for him is he no longer tries to kill the ball and hit a home run. He's staying in better counts, putting himself in better position to see favorable pitches.
He worked on cleaning up his swing, and the belief from his teammates has given him an extra boost of confidence at the plate.
There's also one other thing he added to his game — Victoria Secret's Amber Romance. SEC Network microphones picked up a conversation between Garza and home plate umpire Darrell Arnold during LSU’s 12-2 win over Mississippi State. Arnold complimented Garza on his smell and said he needs to get some for his girlfriend now.
Garza picked up the idea from the outfielders who were using it to keep the mosquitoes away, and so why not kill two birds with one stone and use it to improve the smell of his catching equipment after four days of catching.
“I try not to smell too bad for the umpire,” Garza said. “I know my gear stinks because I caught a few days in a row so it’s pretty smelly. I really just tried to spray some so it wouldn’t be bad on him, and he said he liked it so I’ll have to do it again.”