UCLA looks to bounce back from 2014’s ninth-place Pac-12 finish

UCLA closer David Berg pitches against Cal State Fullerton in the 2013 NCAA Super Regional. Berg returned for his senior season in 2015, turning down a 17th-round draft selection by the Texas Rangers. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

UCLA closer David Berg pitches against Cal State Fullerton in the 2013 NCAA Super Regional. Berg returned for his senior season in 2015, turning down a 17th-round draft selection by the Texas Rangers. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

UCLA baseball placed ninth in the Pac-12 last season, an injury-riddled down year that marked its first finish outside the conference’s top three since 2005 — head coach John Savage’s debut season.

Two years removed from their first NCAA title, the Bruins enter 2015 with a mix of experience and young talent as they set their sights on another trip to Omaha. Most notable is the pitching staff, which features Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year candidate James Kaprielian and star closer David Berg. The season starts at 6 p.m. today, with a weekend series against Hofstra.

A few notes that didn’t make the season preview, which ran in today’s paper and also touches on the potential effects of the sport’s new flat-seam ball:

— Asked if he learned anything in particular from last season’s ninth-place finish, Savage said: “Confidence is very fragile. This is a very humbling game. You’re really only as good as your last game. That’s how I look at it. Maybe when I get away and look at the big picture, it’s a little different. But you’re competitive. You don’t like taking the losses that we took last year. You want to fight. You want to compete.” Continue reading

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Outfielder Eric Filia to miss 2014 season after surgery

Outfielder Eric Filia will miss the entire 2014 season after undergoing labrum surgery, dealing a heavy blow to a UCLA baseball team hoping to defend its first-ever College World Series title.

Filia’s season-ending injury, first reported by Perfect Game’s Kendall Rogers, isn’t the the first time his shoulder has flared up. He suffered a rotator cuff impingement in July while playing in the Cape Cod Summer League. Continue reading

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UCLA will appeal to stay in Jackie Robinson Stadium

UCLA baseball title celebration

The Bruins will fight to keep their home.

UCLA announced Tuesday that it will appeal a ruling that forces its baseball team out of Jackie Robinson Stadium. U.S. District judge S. James Otero ruled this August that the Department of Veterans Affairs had misused its West Los Angeles campus by leasing land to various tenants, including the Bruins’ national championship team.

The land was deeded in 1888 for providing a home for disabled veterans. By not using it to provide health care for veterans, Otero’s decision stated, Veterans Affairs is in violation of federal law. The ACLU sued VA in June 2011 on behalf of veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and brain injuries.

In addition to Jackie Robinson Stadium, parts of the 387-acre property are leased out to 10 other companies and businesses, including the Brentwood School, a hotel laundry and film studio storage lot. Continue reading

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Details from John Savage’s max $1.125 million extension

After winning UCLA baseball’s first-ever national championship, head coach John Savage was rewarded with a contract extension that pays him up to $1.025 million annually, plus a $100,000 signing bonus. His previous contract maxed out at $501,000.

The UC regents officially approved the contract on Sept. 18. USC reportedly offered Savage over $1 million after he won the College World Series in June.

The terms make Savage, who also won multiple national coach of the year honors this summer, among the highest-paid college baseball coaches in the country. LSU’s Paul Mainieri earns $750,000 in annual guaranteed salary.

The particulars from Savage’s contract, which runs through 2025: Continue reading

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UC Regents approve John Savage’s contract extension

John Savage took UCLA baseball further than anyone before him. The Bruins made sure he didn’t leave.

The two-time National Coach of the Year has often stated his desire to stay in Westwood. After winning the program’s first-ever title and turning down a reported million-dollar offer from USC, he is locked in until 2025 — his contract extension approved today by the UC Regents.

“I couldn’t be happier about their commitment, not only to me, but to the baseball program,” Savage said.

The 48-year-old coach, who just completed his ninth season, said improvements to Jackie Robinson Stadium were a significant part of the negotiation.

Most pressing is the need for an adjoining half-infield laid with turf. The addition would allow the Bruins to practice on the surface without having to practice on the football team’s Spaulding Field.

Savage hopes construction will begin as soon as this summer. Other possible facility additions include a new clubhouse, press box, restrooms and concessions. Continue reading

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