Florida loses center fielder

While Tyler Thompson may catch just about every ball in the outfield, he can’t catch a break in terms of his health.

The senior center fielder tore his ACL Friday night, Gators coach Kevin O’Sullivan announced after Florida swept Vanderbilt in its first Southeastern Conference series.

“Obviously, we are very disappointed for him,” O’Sullivan said. “We’re going to get together on Tuesday with the doctors and look at every possible scenario for him. It’s very unfortunate. Feel terrible for him. He’s worked awfully hard to put himself in a great position, but we’ll get together on Tuesday and see what all of our options are.”

Thompson hurt his right knee in the eighth inning vs. Vanderbilt while trying to beat out a dropped third strike.

The senior made it to second base on an overthrow to first by Vanderbilt catcher Spencer Navin.

Backup outfielder Connor Mitchell immediately pinch ran for Thompson.

O’Sullivan didn’t know much about the injury after the 10-2 game one victory.

“I think he will be fine,” O’Sullivan said. “I asked the trainer and [he] said, ‘It was a good sign he ran from first to second,’ but I haven’t had a chance to talk. I certainly hope so.”

This season marked the first time in his career that the Gators pegged Thompson as their everyday centerfielder.

O’Sullivan expressed excitement in the fall about the possibility of an injury-free Thompson.

“I think moving Tyler to center makes the most obvious choice right now,” O’Sullivan said. “He certainly is very capable. We are hoping we are able to keep him healthy. I know he is, too. He has had some string of bad luck. Hopefully, he is beyond that. He is a very capable defender and he has worked awfully hard on his arm. I am just excited to see him go a full year injury free.”

With the Thompson injury, starting senior left fielder Daniel Pigott will move to centerfield and freshman Justin Shafer will start in left.

Pigott and Shafer started the last two games vs. Vanderbilt at those positions.

The freshman batted 2 for 7 this weekend. He sports a .290 average on the season.

“I think I am leaning towards that right now,” O’Sullivan said. “I think he’s earned the opportunity to play and we are going to have to get some depth out there with Vickash [Ramjit] this week. I feel good with Justin out there in left.”

O’Sullivan had talked about Vickash Ramjit playing left field at some point this season to get the junior into the lineup.

Florida plays Samford (13-7, 4-2 SoCon) in Gainesville Tuesday at 7 p.m. before its anticipated weekend series vs. No. 2 South Carolina (15-4, 0-3 SEC).