Micah Gibbs knee injury leads to adjustment of LSU baseball coaching staff for 2018

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BATON ROUGE, La. – LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri announced Thursday that an adjustment has been made to the Tigers’ coaching staff for the 2018 season.

Mainieri said that Micah Gibbs, who served as LSU’s volunteer coach/hitting coach last season, will work this season as the team’s Director of Player Development. Sean Ochinko, who worked last season as the Tigers’ undergraduate assistant coach, will be LSU’s volunteer coach/hitting coach in 2018.

The move became necessary when Gibbs suffered a severe knee injury earlier this month while playing in a pickup basketball game and will require surgery. The rehabilitation involved in recovering from the injury will prevent Gibbs from carrying out his coaching duties, necessitating Ochinko’s appointment as the volunteer coach/hitting coach.

“I was heartbroken when Micah was injured in a freak accident,” Mainieri said. “Because of his inability to now function on the field as an active coach, we felt the need to replace him so that our players can receive the coaching on the field that they deserve and so that we are not as a disadvantage as a team in the rugged SEC.

“Fortunately, we have been able to create a situation where Micah can use his expertise and analytical ability to help us in other ways. He will use his time developing scouting reports, doing analytical studies on relevant statistics, and a myriad of other off the field tasks that can aid the coaches and players. He will continue to be a vital part of our program.”

Gibbs, 29, helped lead LSU to the 2017 SEC regular-season and tournament titles and the national runners-up finish at the College World Series by directing a prolific offense that was No. 1 in the SEC in RBI (448), and No. 2 in the league in batting average (.289) total bases (1,053), base hits (702), runs scored (482) and on-base percentage (.384).

He was the third-round draft choice of the Chicago Cubs in 2010 after posting one of the highest single-season batting averages in LSU history, as the former catcher hit .388 with 14 doubles, three triples, 10 homers and 60 RBI. He was appointed LSU’s coordinator of operations in February 2016 after playing six seasons in the minor leagues – where he reached the AAA level – with the Cubs, the Kansas City Royals and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Gibbs, native of Pflugerville, Texas, started 177 games in three seasons (2008-10) as an LSU catcher, batting .336 (221-for-657) with 46 doubles, five triples, 18 homers and 137 RBI. He helped lead the Tigers to the 2009 College World Series title, and he earned second-team All-America and first-team All-SEC honors in 2010.

“Fortunately for us we have a person in Sean Ochinko available to step in during our team’s time of need,” Mainieri said. “Sean was a significant presence for our national runners-up team last year while finishing his degree at LSU and performing as an undergraduate coach. During his time with us last year, he proved to have an outstanding knowledge of the game combined with an infectious and enthusiastic personality that rubbed off on the players in a big way.

“He has a tremendous acumen for teaching and motivating our players to be winning ballplayers. I have a great deal of confidence in Sean’s ability as a coach and know he will get the best out of hitters and catchers. I am thrilled to be able to add him to our staff.”

Ochinko, 30, a native of Parkland, Fla., was selected in the 11th round of the 2009 MLB Draft by the Toronto Blue Jays, and he played six seasons in the minor leagues, advancing to the Triple-A level. He returned to Baton Rouge last year and helped lead the Tigers to the 2017 College World Series, working as the team’s undergraduate assistant coach while earning his LSU degree in interdisciplinary studies.

Ochinko was a catcher/first baseman at LSU from 2007-09 and was instrumental in the Tigers’ drive to the 2009 College World Series title. He played in 65 games (63 starts) in 2009, batting .333 (78-for-234) with 15 doubles, nine homers, 57 RBI and 46 runs.

Ochinko was LSU’s top hitter in ’09 postseason games, batting .362 (17-for-47) with three doubles, two homers, 13 RBI and seven runs. He hit .368 (7-for-19) in the College World Series with one double, two homers, seven RBI and four runs. Ochinko collected a career-high four hits in his final collegiate game, as he was 4-for-5 with a homer and three RBI in Game 3 of the CWS Finals versus Texas.

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