TSD's Hunter Paniagua caught up with LSU coach Paul Mainieri this week to discuss the Tigers exiting fall practice. Be sure to check out the complete fall practice wrap-up.
Mainieri also discussed some topics that didn't concern fall practices, so check out this notebook for all the latest from the LSU baseball coach.
WILLIAMS INDICTED ON GUN, DRUG CHARGES
LSU baseball signee Dylan Williams was indicted last month on multiple gun and drug charges, according to Tigers coach Paul Mainieri.
Williams faced a grand jury in October after being arrested in July during a drug raid at a friend’s house. Though Williams claimed he was not involved in the operation, he was charged with trafficking the drug Ecstasy, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and possession of a firearm.
Mainieri said he most recently spoke Williams on Wednesday, who’s still holding out hope the charges will be dropped.
“He says there’s a chance,” Mainieri said. “So I’m still letting that slim percent of a chance play out. I’m not in a rush to make a decision.”
That being said, Mainieri said the “odds are against him coming” at this point. Mainieri said the deal with Williams was that if the charges get dropped, he’s free to report to LSU. If they don’t, he can’t.
“If what he said is true, that he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, it’s really sad,” Mainieri said. “But if what he said to me is not entirely true, if he’s involved in some way, then this is how it should have happened. I don’t want anybody in the program that would be a black eye for us.”
MAINIERI APPROVES OF NEW BASEBALL
Mainieri’s one of the 80 percent of college coaches that supports the NCAA’s decision to move to a lower-seamed baseball.
The decision came down earlier this week and will go into effect for the 2015 NCAA Tournament. Individual conferences will have the option to move to the new ball for the 2015 season, and balls for all non-conference games that year will be decided by the home team.
Mainieri said LSU will use the new ball starting next fall and expects the SEC to make the switch as well.
“I’m excited about it,” Mainieri said. “I was probably one of the more outspoken coaches in the country when they changed the bats, saying it was a big mistake.”
Mainieri said he was in the minority back then as fellow coaches held LSU’s Gorilla Ball reputation against him. Now the call for more offense has been picked up after teams hit just three home runs during the College World Series.
“It got so much notoriety that it forced people to figure out what to change to help it,” Mainieri said.
These new balls are estimated to travel 20 feet further than the old ones. Mainieri said the seams on the old balls created drag, like landing gear on an airplane, that prevented home runs. LSU hit just 46 homers last season, compared to the triple-digit totals of the Gorilla Ball era.
With the lower-seam balls, that should help counteract the effect of the newer bats, which Mainieri said “sucked the offense out of the game.”
One knock against the new balls is what effect it will have on the pitchers. While the lower seams will make it harder to throw curveballs, Mainieri said pitchers might actually expect to add a little velocity to their fastballs.
He said pitchers also won’t have blister problems with the new ball, something Kevin Gausman struggled with during his LSU career. The new ball will also feel lighter compared to the old one, which Mainieri said “felt like a grapefruit.”
'UNEVENTFUL' SEC MEETINGS
Mainieri spent two days this week in Birmingham, Ala., for the SEC meetings. He said there was only a brief discussion on changing the 12-team format of the conference tournament, but that was quickly tabled.
“It was pretty uneventful really,” Mainieri said. “It was the shortest agenda we’ve ever had.”
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