BATON ROUGE, La. — Could LSU baseball designated hitter Bryce Jordan be the next Kyle Schwarber?
Don’t bet on it. But don’t rule it out just yet, either.
“You never know,” mused LSU coach Paul Mainieri.
Jordan returned to the LSU batting cage on Monday to face live pitching for the first time since February. He was presumed lost for the season when he tore the ACL in his right knee in a freak on-field mishap a week before the Tigers’ season started. And in all likelihood, Jordan’s season still is over. Monday’s batting practice just offered a glimmer of hope that he could make it back next month should LSU make a deep postseason run.
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“I don’t know. We’ll see,” Jordan said after taking his cuts. “It’s definitely not out of the picture. It depends on how I feel and if I get cleared by the doctor.”
Jordan is jogging, but has yet to run at full strength.
“The hardest thing will be trying to make cuts circling the bases,” he said. “Swinging it doesn’t bother it much. But obviously you’ve got to run and turn around to the bag and stuff like that.”
Jordan’s path back echoes that of Schwarber, the similarly shaped Chicago Cubs slugger who was lost for the regular season in the first week of last April. Schwarber made it back as a DH in the World Series, going 7-for-17 to help his team to its first world title in 108 years.
If Jordan were to come back, he would do so in half as much time as it took Schwarber.
“I’ve been working my butt off every day trying to get my quad strength back and get as fast as I can,” Jordan said. “It just so happens that it’s happening faster than we realized.
“(I rehab) every day except weekends. Work out four times a day and do therapy five times a week. It’s absolutely ridiculous trying to get my quad strength back.”
Jordan was originally told by doctors that it would take four months to recover from his injury.
“That’s for full-fledged football players, though,” he said. “So 3, 3 1/2 months isn’t that much to DH. It’s not like I’m going head-on-head like in a football game.”
But even if Jordan is physically capable of coming back, it does not assure that his timing will be up to speed to allow him to be an effective hitting option.
“Ultimately it will be what coach (Mainieri) wants. I have to see some live pitching,” Jordan said. “He can’t just like throw me out there with no live pitching and say ‘Hey, do what you did in the fall.’ So I’ll have to see some live pitching. I’m sure we’ll make our decision on that.”
Another factor in the decision will be whether participating in this year’s postseason is worth giving up the redshirt year that he is already taking.
“I’ll sit down with my parents,” Jordan said. “If there’s a possibility, there’s a good chance I could do it. But at the same time coming back is still a stretch. I would be pushing the 3 1/2 months thing.”
Jordan was a first team all-SEC DH in 2016, batting .293 with a .419 on-base percentage. The Tigers have turned to several options to replace him this season, including his twin brother Beau and Jordan Romero.