After winning its first national championship, UCLA will open its 2014 season with arguably the thinnest infield of coach John Savage’s tenure.
All-conference honorable mention Kevin Kramer could soon undergo season-ending shoulder surgery, leaving the Bruins with just two returning starters along the base paths: catcher Shane Zeile and first baseman Pat Gallagher. UCLA ranked second in the Pac-12 in fielding last year (.980), but lost shortstop Pat Valaika — the team’s first Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year — and Cody Regis, a 39-game starter at second base.
After starting all 66 games at third base during the Bruins’ 2013 title run, Kramer had been slated to move to shortstop. The team will make a decision on his possible surgery by next Monday. He and Savage had discussed using him exclusively as a designated hitter, but later ruled out that plan.
Infielder Kevin Williams is also battling a shoulder injury, and will be sidelined until mid-March. Continue reading →
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 →
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.
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 →
After leading UCLA baseball to its first national championship, head coach John Savage will sign a new extension through 2025.
According to the Los Angeles Times, he turned down an offer from USC that topped $1 million per year. His latest UCLA contract extension, signed in December and extended to 2017, paid him over $300,000 per year including bonuses. Savage, who just finished his ninth season with the Bruins, had emphasized his desire to stay both before and after the College World Series.
The 48-year-old’s new agreement with the Bruins is pending approval by the University of California board of regents. The next scheduled board meeting is July 16-18.
Prior to a successful tenure at UCLA that includes three trips to Omaha in the past four years, Savage was the head coach at UC Irvine and the pitching coach at USC, where he won the 1998 national title under head coach Mike Gillespie.
Helped significantly by a baseball championship, UCLA men’s athletics secured its first-ever Capital One Cup yesterday.
Awarded annually to the top men’s and women’s Division I programs in the country, the prize comes with $200,000 worth of scholarships and will be presented at the ESPY Awards on July 17. The Bruin men scored 92 points to place ahead of Indiana and Texas A&M (88 points each), Florida (86) and Duke (82). The baseball title secured 60 points.
UCLA also placed third in the Director’s Cup, which Stanford won for the 19th consecutive season. The Bruins now have back-to-back third-place finishes, and have landed in the top-five in eight of the past 10 years.
Per his contract, athletic director Dan Guerrero will receive a $30,000 bonus for the Bruins’ top-10 placement in the Director’s Cup.
LOS ANGELES — Eric Karros stood in the middle of Jackie Robinson Stadium, just feet away from the national championship trophy. Once a player himself, the former Bruin and Dodger had waited years for this moment.
He gestured toward UCLA head coach John Savage, the man who had brought the Bruins to the mountaintop, guiding them through an undefeated postseason.
“I know a lot of schools will come courting, but gosh darn it, I hope you stay,” Karros said Thursday afternoon. The 800-some fans sitting in the stands likely thought the same.
The Los Angeles Times reported earlier this week that USC — which finished 20-36 — had interest in Savage, who won the 1998 title there as a pitching coach. Considering UCLA’s now-official powerhouse status, that’s somewhat akin to a teenage boy having interest in Kate Upton. Continue reading →
» John Savage’s two championship teams finished with identical 49-17 records. He earned his first ring as a USC pitching coach in 1998, in a 21-14 victory over Arizona State that saw the teams combine for eight home runs.
“I looked at the record yesterday, and I had a good feeling we were going to end up with the same amount of wins, the same amount of losses,” Savage said after beating Mississippi State 8-0 Tuesday night, earning his first as UCLA’s head coach. “I knew the game wasn’t going to be 21-14, thank God.”
Sixty-two home runs were hit during the 1998 CWS. This year’s saw just three. His team is built as a polar opposite to those “Gorilla Ball” squads, one that squeezes in just enough offense to complement defense and pitching. The Bruins took the bumpier road and sped along untouched, downing No. 5 seed Fullerton, No. 4 seed LSU and No. 1 seed UNC through the postseason.
“I don’t think any of the experts thought we would be here at this stage, and we did it the right way,” Savage said. “We played baseball.”
» UCLA’s pitchers combined for a 0.80 ERA in the College World Series, the lowest mark in the aluminum bat era (since 1974). The Bruins were also the first team to ever run through Omaha without allowing more than one run in any game.
The superlative defense, marked by the play of all-tournament shortstop Pat Valaika, helped hold opponents to 1-27 with runners in scoring position. Continue reading →