Looking no worse for the wear, Ty Ross was at Alex Box Stadium on Monday as his teammates returned to work for the first time after a punch-in-the-gut series loss to Vanderbilt.
Two days removed from an emergency appendectomy, Ross said he was functioning normally – although he is out of action indefinitely.
“I can move around and walk and stuff,” the affable Florida native said. “As long as I’m not yelling at the top of my lungs and doing crunches, I should be all right.”
Ross experienced some abdominal discomfort after a 2-1 LSU victory Friday but waved it off. But he woke up Saturday in severe pain and called trainer John Michelini.
Michelini told Ross to meet him at a local hospital, and after several tests, doctors came back and delivered the news that the appendix had to come out.
“It kind of came out of nowhere,” Ross said.
To everyone involved.
Mainieri got the news at 3 p.m. Saturday as players were arriving at the ballpark for Saturday’s game. As each one arrived, Mainieri broke the news about Ross, one of the Tigers’ team leaders.
“Saturday and Sunday were weird days for us because of this illness for Ross,” Mainieri said. “On Saturday, the players didn’t have any time to deal with it and digest it and come to grips with it.”
Around 5 p.m. Saturday, Ross went to surgery and he was back in a room right around when the Tigers’ second game with Vanderbilt got started.
Ross was alert enough to watch LSU’s 6-3 loss and he also kept up with Sunday’s game, a 5-4 setback in 10 innings.
“I watched both of those on TV in the hospital bed,” Ross said. “The nurse came in and asked me if I was OK. I was upset.”
Shortly after the Sunday game ended, Ross was released and sent home.
With the weekend in the rearview mirror, the Tigers are looking ahead and so is their starting catcher.
Mainieri said he has seen estimates for recuperation of anywhere from 10 days to 3 weeks, and pointed out that Ross’ top-notch physical condition will aid in his ability to bounce back.
“This is an illness and a surgery that can take it out of you,” Mainieri said. “It’s going tom make you weak, mess up your equilibrium. He plays a position where he’s going to have to use his abdominals a lot to block balls, and has to squat over and over.”
|Ross: Hitting .305 with 34 RBIs|
The goal for Ross and his coach is for Ross to come back at full speed – not too early where he could risk a further, potentially season-ending setback.
Mainieri said he’s confident Ross will be back for the NCAA Tournament, which begins June 1. He said he’s hopeful doctors might clear him for the weekend of the SEC Tournament in Hoover – if LSU is still playing in the semifinal round or beyond.
“I want to see how body feels and make sure I’m 100% and ready to come back full go,” said Ross, who is third on the team in hitting (.305) and fourth in RBIs (34). “I’m already itching to get back out there. Once I know I’m back, I’m going to go 100%.”
Added Mainieri, “I just don’t want to him to play, I want him to play well.”
In the meantime, Ross will fill whatever roll he’s able to from the dugout.
Senior Jordy Snikeris will take over as the starter, with freshman Tyler Moore stepping into the No. 2 spot.
Ross and Snikeris have established a bond the last two seasons, and that bond should come in handy over the next few weeks.
“I’m going to continue to be a leader whether I’m out there on the field or in the dugout,” Ross said. “Jordy is a veteran catcher and he knows what he’s doing.
“I’ll continue to work with the pitchers keep them in a positive mindset – pump them up if they need it. I’ll talk to (pitching coach Alan Dunn) about how we’re going to approach hitters. Whatever they’ll let me do, I’m going to do.”
That could entail a spot on the travel roster to South Carolina this weekend, regardless of Ross’ availability.
Although SEC rules limit teams to 27 players for each series, Mainieri said he wants Ross in tow for the reasons above and one other.
The Tigers are one win away (or an Ole Miss loss) away from wining the SEC West outright, and with the right combination of circumstances they could tie for the overall SEC crown or even win it outright.
“He obviously won’t be available, but he’s been such a vital part of our team and if we have the good fortune of winning something this weekend … I would like him to be there with his teammates to be able to bask in it,” Mainieri said. “If he’s able to go and his doctor will clear him, I’d love for him to be able to go.”