UL's Robichaux reveals real reason Leger missed start

Tim Buckley
The Daily Advertiser

UL baseball coach Tony Robichaux shed more light this week on the real reason Ragin’ Cajuns ace Gunner Leger skipped his scheduled start at Sam Houston State last weekend.

Robichaux said Leger — now slated to return Friday night, when UL hosts Maryland on M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field at Russo Park in the opening outing of a three-game weekend non-conference series — had minor inflammation in his throwing arm.

Leger, a fifth-year senior and the Sun Belt Conference’s 2017 Pitcher of the Year, sat out last season following partial Tommy John elbow surgery and a subsequent surgery to remove a calcified cyst from his left-leg femur bone.

Related:With 630 days between baseball games, painful layoff nears an end for Leger

UL pitcher Gunner Leger takes a moment on the mound before facing Texas earlier this month.

The lefty made his 2019 season debut on Feb. 15 against then-No. 16 Texas, going 5.0 scoreless innings. Three days later, Leger — a 26th-round draft choice of the Miami Marlins in 2017 — had his arm examined.

The medical appointment was pre-planned, according to Robichaux, whose 1-6 Cajuns had their game Tuesday night at Southeastern Louisiana postponed due to the threat of inclement weather and rescheduled for 6 p.m. April 3 in Hammond. 

“We would plan, no matter what, to just get him evaluated, look at it, make sure that the anchor, the UCL (ulnar collateral ligament), everything was in good shape,” the Cajuns coach said.

The UCL is the elbow ligament “most often injured by repeated stress from overhead movement,” according to hopkinsmedicine.org.

“We just saw a very, very small piece of inflammation,” Robichaux said. “It wasn’t even on the UCL … or on the anchor or anything.”

More:Butterflies behind, Leger goes five in UL loss to Texas

A UL spokesman initially said last week that Leger would not pitch at Sam Houston so that he could “rest,” and that no injury or re-injury was involved.

Robichaux this week characterized the decision to sit Leger (0-0, 0.00 ERA) at Sam Houston State as a precautionary one more than anything else.

UL’s game against the Bearkats wound up getting to pushed to Saturday as part of a doubleheader due to heavy fog in Huntsville, Texas, on Friday night, and the Cajuns wound up losing it 7-5 after a three-run ninth inning with lefty Austin Perrin (0-1, 5.23) getting the start instead of Leger.

Related:UL drops two heartbreakers in doubleheader with Sam Houston State

More:Robichaux wants Cajuns to kill the bullpen 'monster' now

Perrin worked 6.0 innings with just one run and four hits allowed, then put on two runners early in the seventh and was tagged with two more runs after reliever Brock Batty gave up a three-run homer.

“If it had been a weekend that we were playing for the conference championship, or something like that, he (Leger) could have went,” Robichaux said. “He could have went Saturday, or maybe even Sunday.

“But we sat down together and said, ‘You know, hey, it’s early. Why don’t you skip it instead of trying to come out of the bullpen on Saturday or Sunday or something? Why don’t you just skip it, and then after Friday’s game … act like you pitched that game, and then just start on your routine again for this Friday?’

“So that’s what he’s doing,” Robichaux added. “He’s back on his routine for this Friday.”

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With Leger returning Friday, Texas Christian-transfer Dalton Horton (1-0, 0.82) is scheduled to start Saturday against Maryland. The Cajuns’ Sunday starter is TBA for now, according to Robichaux.

Prior Tuesday's postponement, UL had announced Tuesday morning that sophomore lefty Batty (0-0, 2.08) was going to start the game at Southeastern Louisiana.

More:Lots of questions for Cajuns pitching staff led by Leger