By JOEL COLEMAN
Mississippi State doesn’t have a midweek game in the coming week. Bulldogs head coach John Cohen couldn’t be more thankful.
Following MSU’s series victory over Alabama on Saturday, State’s eighth-year leader expressed a sense of relief that his banged-up Bulldogs won’t have to hit the field again until Thursday at home against Missouri.
“There’s no question, I feel like this couldn’t come at a better time,” Cohen said. “Everything was condensed this week with the game in Pearl (on Tuesday) and then (this weekend’s) Thursday-Friday-Saturday format. Our kids really gutted through that, but they need some rest.”
Several MSU players are either playing through or are out with injuries. On Saturday, Jacob Robson returned to the starting lineup for the first time since April 3. The junior centerfielder has essentially been out for a month, save for one pinch-running appearance, with a small fracture in his hand. Robson went a combined 0-for-5 in the two games Saturday.
“You could tell he hadn’t played in awhile and that his timing at the plate was a little bit off,” Cohen said. “But seeing him run after balls in the outfield along with (Jake) Mangum, those are two guys that can really go get the baseball.
“You can see it with (Robson). It’s going to come. He’s just a little late or a little early (swinging), but it’s going to come. There’s no question. He’s too good of a player.”
Robson isn’t the only Bulldog dealing with issues of the hand or wrist. Cohen said infielder Luke Alexander is playing with a broken wrist. Cohen removed Alexander from the game in the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader after Alexander committed an error.
“He goes down to catch the ball and I guarantee you he was in so much pain it was unbelievable,” Cohen said.
In addition to Robson and Alexander, Reid Humphreys is dealing with general soreness. Though Humphreys played in both games Saturday, he was unavailable to pitch.
“It’s kind of tough to play left field and feel good, but I’ve been battling (soreness) a little bit and we’re just trying to figure it out and find a way to stay healthy,” Humphreys said.
While others deal with upper body injuries, infielder Hunter Stovall’s lower body is his problem. Stovall suffered a leg injury on Thursday night and spent the rest of this weekend in a leg brace and on crutches.
“I can’t see it not lasting four to six weeks,” Cohen said of Stovall’s injury. “The good news is the ligaments are intact. He’s going to have a full recovery and everything is going to be great, but the fact that thing kind of popped out a little bit is going to take him awhile to get the swelling down and get everything back to where he needs to be.”
The Bulldogs will lick their wounds over the next several days. Cohen says there are still things left to do, but the most important thing on the agenda is for his team to get healthy for the season’s stretch run.
“We still need to work on some things for sure, but they need some rest because they’ve been through a bunch,” Cohen said. “We have a lot of kids gutting things out right now.”