June 18, 2010
It's an honor, and very humbling to be here. On behalf of UCLA and our program, playing in the last year of Rosenblatt is just a dream come true for the entire program, and certainly myself. Our guys have worked extremely hard, like all these teams have. And I'm just honored to be up with all the coaches. I know for Jim [Schlossnagle] and Kevin [O'Sullivan] and myself, our first time, and like Jim said, respect these guys, unbelievably. They've been great young assistant coaches and turned into head coaches. And then Coach [Mike] Martin, like Jim said, is one of the best college coaches of all time. So I just feel lucky to be here and representing UCLA and looking forward to good baseball.
on the reaction to Gerrit Cole choosing to attend UCLA instead of signing as a first-round draft pick in 2008
With Gerrit Cole, that's who you're talking about, two years ago went the first round with the New York Yankees. It's like anything else, you recruit them up until June one way. And then June hits and you see what happens in the Major League draft. And you know, it was just - it was the Cole family that made the decision. We didn't have a whole lot to do with them coming to school in terms of valuing the education, valuing the chance to go to Omaha, which now he is here. So I could present it a different way and say that we did this and did that, but really it was the Cole family that made the decision and felt it was in the best interests of the player, of Gerrit, in this case, to go to school and mature and come and pitch at UCLA for three years and have a chance to go to Omaha and eventually be a good pro.
on his immediate reaction to Gerrit Cole committing to UCLA the night of August 15, 2008 after the deadline passed
I fell off my chair. I couldn't believe it. No, I mean, we felt throughout the summer, August 15th, which is the big deadline now, and we felt comfortable. The only scary thing is you go through the first round and they pass and they pass and they pass and then you've got the big monster at the end which is the Yankees. So that was scary, certainly. We felt that they were going to go in and sign him. And we were just very fortunate that he decided to go to UCLA.
on the personality and development of this team
We started off very well, won the first 22 games of the season, felt we were battle tested. We played Oklahoma, Vanderbilt. Played an extremely tough schedule. And then we went into the Pac 10 conference, which was very, very tough this season. Eight teams went to the postseason. We fought through that. We finished second behind a very, very good Arizona State team. We changed our roster for the most part offensively from the last season. We got much more left handed. We wanted to be more athletic, both in the outfield and infield, and that seemed to generate offense offensively. If you look at our numbers, they don't really tell the story. We don't have the home runs that a lot of these teams have, and the big RBI guys, they're not there. It's just kind of West Coast baseball that kind of chipped away. Rick Vanderhook had a major influence on our program. Rick spent 19 years at Cal State Fullerton, went to Omaha 10 times as an assistant with Augie Garrido and George Horton, and had a major influence on our offense. Our strength is our pitching. We like our pitching from top to bottom. And we hit some bumps along the way. Arizona State swept us. Oregon came in and got us 2 out of 3. And I think we've won 18 out of the last 21 games, and went through a very tough regional with LSU and UC Irvine. Then we had to face Fullerton again in the Super Regionals, and we were very fortunate. We lost the first game, battled back, and down to our last out. So we feel, like I said, we feel good about ourselves but we also feel fortunate to be here. And that's our story.
on UCLA's situation at second base, having lost Tyler Rahmatulla to injury (wrist)
Well, it looks like we'll go with Cody Regis at second base. He's a high school shortstop. We've recruited a lot of infielders and shortstops coming into our programs. We'll move him over to second base. We also have Adrian Williams who backed up Niko Gallego all year, can play second base. And looks like it will be Trevor Brown and Dean Espy over at third base. It's very unfortunate what happened to Tyler Rahmatulla. You see it every Super Regionals. Sometimes you see it during the regional. You see it all the time in Major League Baseball in the playoffs and certainly the World Series. Very unfortunate. He broke his wrist in the dogpile. At the time, no one even knew anything about it. Literally we got word the next night that it had been x rayed and they found a fracture on the wrist, but we'll move on.
We lost Cody Keefer late in the season. He's not played a game since the walk off home run since USC. Like any of these guys, everybody has injuries. People go down all the time in this game, and you just move forward. Like Coach said, you have 27 guys on your roster, guys that want that next opportunity. So we're not going to - I'd like not to talk about it all week, really, about the dogpile, but it is what it is. But as a team perspective, our guys will be ready and looking forward to the challenge of filling that role.
on UCLA players and coaches wearing John Wooden's inititals on their caps and batting helmets
The JW on our hats is obviously for Coach Wooden. Coach Wooden is the coach of all coaches. We feel honored and humbled to be at the school he was at for a very long time. All the national championships he won as a UCLA basketball coach. His passion. When I first got the position at UCLA, I was very fortunate to go to breakfast with Coach Wooden and Dan Guerrero, our athletic director. The guy talked the entire time about baseball. His first love was baseball. I was very fortunate to go to a brunch with Mike Scioscia and Joe Torre and Vince Scully and Coach Wooden. It was in January of this past year. I just feel very honored and humbled.
I passed those stories along to our players, certainly about his passion toward baseball and his love toward the game. And he followed us this season. And what can you say? He's the man. And he's the coach of all coaches. And we just feel very honored to be able to put his initials on our hat. We also have a JW sticker on our helmet and just out of respect to him and his family and all his accomplishments at UCLA.
on UCLA's decision to start right-hander Trevor Bauer on Saturday against Florida
Our starter will be Trevor Bauer. He's been our No. 2 guy all season. He's as good as any No. 1 in the country. Trevor left high school early a year ago, came into UCLA in January of his freshman year, and was the freshman pitcher of the year in the country. Won nine games, pitched with Team USA along with Gerrit Cole. Won 10 games this season. He's a guy that will come at you with four pitches, very aggressive, but also a guy that, for his age, has really made a big impact in our program. He's won 19 games in two seasons. So we feel very confident with Trevor, and he just needs to go out and pitch his game. And he's facing a very good offensive team in Coach O'Sullivan's club, and it will be a tremendous challenge for him. But he wants the ball, and tomorrow night he'll get the ball.