USC coach Ray Tanner said Thursday that outfielder Jackie Bradley could return before the season ends, although it might be mostly as a defensive replacement or pinch-runner. Tanner expects it will take longer for Bradley to regain his ability to swing a bat.
Bradley has returned from injuries ahead of schedule during both his freshman and sophomore seasons and told Tanner he planned to do so again.
“The chances of him coming back are maybe slightly better than they were (the past couple of days),” Tanner said. “But that’s not saying he will be back.”
Evan Marzilli, meanwhile, will return this weekend and could be patrolling Bradley’s vacated spot in center. The sophomore left fielder, who experienced a rapid heartbeat, was cleared by doctors to return after undergoing medical evaluations this week.
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“I’m feeling great and I’m ready to play this weekend,” Marzilli said. “I want to play as much as I can.”
He hopes to be back in the starting lineup against the Tigers. After hitting a home run in an 8-2 win against Mississippi State last Friday, Marzilli looks to be coming out of an early-season slump. He is batting .257 with two homers and 17 RBIs.
Here’s the pitch
Tanner foresees no change to his weekend pitching rotation. It will be Michael Roth, Colby Holmes and Forrest Koumas facing Auburn, the fifth consecutive weekend those three have started.
Adam Westmoreland, who began the season in the weekend rotation before struggling, pitched well Tuesday in a start against Liberty, and Tanner said he will be available to pitch in relief against Auburn.
The No. 2 Gamecocks continue to get plenty of TV exposure. All three games of the Auburn series will be televised, with tonight’s and Saturday night’s games on SportSouth and Sunday’s game on ESPN.