Opening day is here and coach Paul Mainieri has a lineup, but he does not expect it to stick as he still plans to toy with different lineups until he finds one that sticks.
“We're going to try some different combinations over the first couple of weeks,” Mainieri said. “We'll go from there.”
The Tigers have had a lot of holes to fill after losing a lot of marquee players from last year’s team, but are hoping to find something that works over this weekend’s series. LSU is planning to start double-digit players in the duration of their first series against the Indiana Hoosiers.
Despite not being in the opening day lineup, multiple new Tigers are going to see the field during opening weekend. Zachary, La. native Alex Milazzo will be starting behind the plate for the Tigers in game one of the doubleheader on Saturday. Along with Milazzo, Giovanni DiGiacomo will be out in center field as well. To round out the bunch, freshman outfielder Wes Toups will also get a start in one of the two games on Saturday.
Here is an analysis of the starting lineup for Friday night.
Daniel Cabrera, CF
Cabrera, who is a preseason All-American, is looking to be a leader for an inexperienced Tigers team. Cabrera had a phenomenal freshman campaign and then hit the sophomore slump. The former freshman All-American will be hitting in the lead-off position for LSU. The junior out of Baton Rouge batted .284 (64-for-225) with 12 doubles, two triples, 12 homers in last season.
Cade Doughty, 2B
Mainieri is high on the freshman from Denham Spring, La., and highlighted his ability to be able to drive the ball and use the whole field. Doughty still has major growing room to do defensively, but Mainieri is hopeful that he will do more damage with his bat than he will let in with his glove.
Zack Mathis, 3B
Mathis is a transfer from San Joaquin Delta. While there, the 5-foot-8 sophomore hit 14 home runs, 48 doubles, 134 hits and 134 RBI in 99 games. He will start the season at third base but has the ability to play at any position in the infield.
Saul Garza, C
Garza came up huge for the Tigers in the postseason with the emergence of his bat. In LSU’s 10 postseason games, Garza raised his batting average to .303 with seven doubles, four homers, 15 RBI and 13 runs. Despite being injured in the offseason, Garza has earned his spot behind the plate.
Cade Beloso, 1B
Beloso started out slow in his freshman campaign but came around offensively to solidify his first base position. The Tigers are leaning on Beloso to be the power hitter that they need.
Gavin Dugas, RF
Mainieri decided to play around with Dugas and try him out in right field. Though he will probably move back to second base. The Houma native has been productive during the preseason.
Hayden Travinski, DH
Despite missing the majority of fall practice due to a concussion, Travinski has battled his way back in the lineup with the power of his bat.
Drew Bianco, LF
Much like Dugas, Bianco has been shifted around a lot on the field. He struggled at the plate last season, hitting .176 but has seen the ball well in the fall as he hit five home runs.
Hal Hughes, SS
Hughes has made the transition back to his preferred position, shortstop. His ability to hit the ball well consistently is still to be seen but one thing he does provide is solid defense.