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Josh Pearson excited about new opportunity at second base

Heading into the 2023 season, LSU head coach Jay Johnson hoped to catch lightning in a bottle by moving longtime outfielder/designated hitter Gavin Dugas at second base.

Dugas started 66 games at second, smacking 17 home runs and driving in 49 helping the Tigers capture the 2023 National Championship.

Johnson and staff now hope lighting strikes twice.

One of the biggest headlines coming out of the fall was the move of junior Josh Pearson to the infield after two years of being in the outfield.

“The last time I played infield was probably when I was 17 and it was the travel ball season,” Pearson said. “Never did it in a high school game, my coach would never let me.

“When I first got recruited Jay knew that I had been playing infield a little bit in summer ball and had a brief conversation about it about three years ago. Fast forward to me walking past him in the dugout one day during fall practice, and he asked me if I thought I could still play infield. I told him yes sir. I haven’t picked up an outfield glove since.”

Playing in 55 games last season, the left-handed hitting Pearson emerged in the postseason, starting all 13 NCAA Tournament games for the Tigers, smacking three home runs and 8 RBI.

“It’s definitely not easier than I thought it would be,” he said of the transition to the infield. “In the outfield, you have a good bit of time to react to balls coming your way off the bat. In the infield, if you blink when the pitch is being thrown, you may miss it. You got to be on your toes a lot more

“Honestly, it’s a completely different game (in the infield). For example, in the outfield you are taught to never use two hands when you are fielding a ground ball, come up, crow-hop and be ready to hit your cut-off man. In the infield, you want to be as low as you can with both

hands fielding the ball and want to make a smooth throw to first base and hit them in the chest. I’ve played the outfield so long that it is super easy to get refocused when you mess up, but in the infield it is harder. It can lead to some doubts about yourself. But, I’m going to continue working. I’m probably taking at least 100 ground balls a day in an effort to build my confidence in this new position. All of this is new to me, so the new challenge is exciting. It makes you want to work harder.”

Pearson also credited fellow middle infielder, shortstop Michael Braswell, with being a positive reinforcing force throughout the fall as his transition continues.

“(Braswell) has been awesome,” he said. “I can remember in the fall scrimmage against McNeese and we were talking on the field and I told him I still am learning a lot of things. I told him if I’m doing something wrong let me know. He was on it all game. I don’t even know how he was paying attention to himself because he was helping me out on every single pitch. All the infielders have been great and are helping me with this and taking me under their wing.”

Another tool Pearson has used to his advantage is Dugas himself, picking the former Tigers brain on how he did this exact thing last season.

“What he did last year shows me that what I’m trying to do is possible,” Pearson said. “It’s not like some crazy dream. When I first told him he didn’t believe me actually. He’s been a great resource to help with the fundamental stuff.

“His best advice is simple; just make the play. I don’t have to do anything fancy or anything like that. As long as you get the guy out, that’s all that matters.”

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