Baseball: Monica likely redshirting; Harris fights two injuries
Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, April 10, 2018
For one Ragin’ Cajun, the season is in all likelihood done.
For another who – like the first – also has been dealing with multiple injuries in 2018, a move back to the weekend starting rotation could be in store.
UL coach Tony Robichaux said Monday that unless something changes in the next few days, would-be starting catcher Handsome Monica – who has been out since injuring a knee in the Cajuns’ season-opener at Texas – will be redshirted and will undergo elbow surgery.
Robichaux also disclosed Monday that junior lefty Hogan Harris, a candidate for weekend duty, sustained a displaced rib in addition to the oblique injury he’s had to overcome this year.
The St. Thomas More High product initially injured the stomach muscle during his Sunday start in UL’s season-opening series. The opposite-side rib injury occurred subsequent to that.
Harris worked the first 5.0 innings of UL’s 9-8 loss at nationally ranked Southern Mississippi last Tuesday night, allowing three hits and three runs – all earned – while throwing 95 pitches and striking out five.
He’s scheduled to start UL’s non-conference midweek home game against Southland Conference-member McNeese on Tuesday night, with the Cajuns’ starter for their non-conference home game against Southland-member Southeastern Louisiana on Wednesday night being to-be-announced.
With the 15-17 Cajuns now primarily on positioning themselves for the upcoming Sun Belt Conference Tournament, any and all position decisions made for those two games will be made with this weekend’s three-game SBC series at Appalachian State foremost in mind.
“The ultimate challenge is trying to line up our pitching properly for the weekend coming off of a Tuesday and a Wednesday game,” said Robichaux, whose Cajuns took 2-of-3 from Texas-Arlington last weekend.
That could potentially mean a short start Tuesday for Harris if the Cajuns intend to move him back onto weekend duty, followed – possibly – by a another short outing at Appalachian State so his arm is not overworked.
“The bullpen will have to help out if we elect to do that,” Robichaux said.
Skipping a start is not a viable option, Robichaux suggested.
Whichever pitcher is involved in a potential move – Harris being the likely, perhaps to replace junior righty Nick Lee on Sunday – will be consulted to determine how he feels.
With pitchers having varying recovery times, that’s important.
“If we do anything like that, we always ask them, ‘Would you rather bullpen, or would you rather (throw) the same amount of pitches but in some game action so you can continue to get the feel of how it feels to start?’ ” the Cajuns coach said.
“Sometimes we like the bullpen to be live, and get the feeling of going out there and starting a game – even though you might only work two or three innings, or 35 pitches or something.”
In the case of Harris, a pro prospect, there are multiple factors to weigh.
“You’ve got to take into consideration the guy’s coming from an oblique strain and a displaced rib,” Robichaux said, “so there’s a lot of things to take into consideration.
“He’s got a future ahead of him, and you do want to handle these pitchers accordingly. … The last thing you want to do is put them in some dangerous situation just to try to win a baseball game.”
As for Monica, whose ulnar collateral ligament was subsequent to his knee injury, surgery is expected, according to Robichaux.
UL catcher Handsome Monica is likely to redshirt and have elbow surgery. (Photo: SCOTT CLAUSE/THE ADVERTISER)
With that in mind, UL put Nick Hanks – a freshman catcher from Notre Dame High – into the 35th and final spot on its active roster prior to last weekend’s series with UTA.
Hanks is available to play now, and would in an emergency situation, but Robichaux suggested the Cajuns still ideally would like to redshirt him.
One other option: freshman outfielder Blake Faecher, who had limited catching experience at Cy-Fair High in Texas but who already has appeared in seven games this season.
Juco-transfer Kole McKinnon has caught every inning for UL since Monica’s knee injury.
Monica, according to Robichaux, appears headed for a surgery similar to the partial Tommy John that out-for-the-season Cajuns pitcher Gunner Leger underwent last year.
That would mean another year at UL in 2019 for Monica, who began his college career at Arizona and his played first season for the Cajuns in 2017.
“All the indicators right now, unless something changes over the next 4-to-5 days,” Robichaux said, “look that we would redshirt Handsome and let him have the same surgery on his elbow that Gunner had on his.”
LAGNIAPPE: The Louisiana Sports Writers Association on Monday named UL senior lefty Colten Schmidt its state Pitcher of the Week. Schmidt threw 8.0 scoreless innings with just three hits allowed in the Cajuns’ 2-0 win over UTA on Friday night.
UL VS. MCNEESE
RECORDS: UL 15-17, McNeese 13-19
WHEN: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday
WHAT: Midweek non-conference college baseball game
WHERE: M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field at Russo Park
TV: Cox Sports Television (CST) with Jeff Palermo and Tommy Krysan
STREAMING: ESPN3 outside the CST viewing area
RADIO: KPEL 1420 AM with Jay Walker
UL PITCHER: LHP Hogan Harris (1-1, 4.73 ERA)
UL LEADERS: OF Daniel Lahare (.295), OF Gavin Bourgeois (.287, 9 doubles, 9 steals), SS Hayden Cantrelle (.256), 2B Hunter Kasuls (.252, 23 RBI, 2 homers).