BATON ROUGE, La. — For the first time since March 21, the LSU baseball team was able to call upon freshman right-hander Nick Storz on Wednesday.
Storz threw two innings of scoreless relief in the Tigers’ 13-3 win over McNeese State on Wednesday, returning from a shoulder injury setback that has limited him to three innings pitched in 2018. In those two innings, Storz struck out 2 batters and allowed a hit and 2 walks.
“I hoped for better when I got on the mound,” Storz said. “I was hoping my command would be a little better. But I wasn’t expecting to be lights out. It felt good to be back on the mound and helping this team out in the way that I can. That was the biggest thing: just to get back on the mound. But there’s a lot of work to do.”
LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri agreed with that assessment. Mainieri referred to Storz’s return as the “highlight” of the game but also acknowledged the progress Storz needs to make. Storz’s stuff wasn’t all the way back to 100 percent yet; the freshman was topping out at 92 or 93 mph instead of the 94 or 95 he’s known to touch. But more importantly, Storz wasn’t showcasing great command of his pitches.
Which Mainieri wasn’t surprised to see.
“That’s about what he looked like in his live [practice] session,” Mainieri said. “I didn’t expect him to go out and throw nothing but strikes. We were trying to get him a lot of practice mound time. We just haven’t been able to do that because of the health of his shoulder. He pitched [Wednesday night] probably two or three practice sessions before he should’ve. But we don’t have any more time, otherwise we’re just getting him ready for summer league.”
The good news? Storz’s shoulder feels good and it doesn’t appear as if he’ll have to head back to the training room for anything more rigorous than tape and ice any time soon. And when Storz takes the mound his next time out, he said he expects to have the command he’s seeking. Or, at the very least, be closer to it.
“I just need to get a little bit more comfortable on the mound, get some more appearances out there,” Storz said. “Next time, it’s going to be 10 times better.”