Lost amidst the carnage of an 0-3 Pac-12 Conference weekend for the UCLA Bruins is the way they continue to take every setback in stride.
College World Series champions last June, the Bruins (23-24-1, 10-13 Pac-12) are barely a bubble team this season, struggling with injuries throughout the roster.
They enjoyed solid starting pitching against Oregon State, but the Bruins were unable to maintain the quality once the Beavers forced UCLA to make a call to the bullpen.
“The score is certainly deceiving, our starting pitching was very good,” UCLA coach John Savage said. “Our bullpen somewhat fell apart with no (David) Berg and that hurts.”
UCLA ace reliever Berg didn’t appear other than in a jacket in the dugout all weekend as he continues to nurse a biceps strain.
“It’s somewhat week-to-week. I wouldn’t say day-to-day, it’s week-to-week,” Savage said of Berg’s status after the bullpen surrendered nine runs – including three home runs – in Sunday’s series finale.
Injuries haven’t been limited to the pitching staff. The Bruins are playing their bullpen catcher at third base at the moment and saw designated hitter Kevin Williams injure a shoulder diving back to second base on Saturday, followed by catcher Shane Zeile being hit in the lower leg by a pitch while batting. Then there is lead-off hitter Brian Carroll. The center fielder continues to play through injuries.
“We knew it was going to be difficult, we lost a lot of people and just a ton of injuries. It’s just something you deal with as a coach,” Savage said. “There are some guys we didn’t expect to play a lot have played a lot. Oregon State knows about it after their titles in ’06 and ’07.”
Indeed, Beavers coach Pat Casey is well-versed in coping with injuries following great success and can easily relate to Savage’s situation.
“I remember ’07 and ’08, it wasn’t the most easy time,” said Casey. “Their main thing is they’ve lost so many guys to injury.”