Kyle Karros said he could not remember a longer stretch of time in which he hasn’t shared the diamond with his brother.
The sophomore infielder for No. 23 UCLA baseball (33-18, 17-10 Pac-12) hasn’t occupied the field at the same time as his older brother, junior right-hander Jared Karros, since March 2021, when the Bruin hurler went down with a season -ending back injury.
More than one year later, the two have yet to experience their long-awaited on-field reunion.
“I can not imagine what he’s going through,” Kyle Karros said. “I know how hard he works to get on the field. I know how competitive he is and how badly he wants to be out there. ”
In a game against Washington State on Saturday, the sophomore hit a three-run home run over the left-field wall in his brother’s 50th game of the season on the bench. As Kyle Karros trotted around the bases, Jared Karros was one of the first blue hats that streamed towards the top step of the dugout, his hands held out for a congratulatory high-five.
In the next game, Kyle Karros hit another three-run home run. When he returned to the dugout, his brother stood in the same spot as the day before to celebrate the infielder’s fifth round-tripper of the season.
“It’s a weird dynamic not having him with me on the field,” Kyle Karros said. “But I still feel his presence in the dugout always pulling for me.”
In between those innings watching his brother compete, Jared Karros spends his days working with physical therapists and doctors in an effort to speed up the recovery of his back.
“It’s not easy being hurt,” said graduate student outfielder Kenny Oyama. “It’s obviously tough not seeing your brother being healthy and being able to do what he’s good at.”
As the Bruins’ opening-day starter last year, Jared Karros could have made a convincing case to occupy the Friday-night role for the 2022 season, according to coach John Savage. Through seven games in 2021, he compiled a 3.33 ERA and a WHIP under 1.00.
But his back was still too painful for much of the offseason, and despite the treatment, the timetable for the junior hurler’s return is still far from being concrete.
“I think it’s been difficult on Kyle. Whenever you have a brother you look up to who’s a very talented guy, who would be comfortable with that? ” Savage said. “But they support each other really well.”
For Kyle Karros, like his brother, dealing with injury has been a familiar foe this season. The infielder missed most of February and March with a hand injury after he was hit by a pitch. Since his return, he has been a staple in the Bruin lineup, tied for second in home runs and tied for fourth in RBIs.
The fact that the Karros brothers come from a baseball family – their father Eric Karros played for 14 years in the big leagues – has afforded the two another level of support when dealing with injuries.
“We have a pretty unreal support system, just with the resources that my dad has access to,” Kyle Karros said. “Setting us up with good doctors, he’s been through it all as well, so it’s good to have him in our corner to fall back on.”
With just one series left on the Bruins’ regular-season schedule, the chance for the two brothers to play on the same field in 2022 is quickly fading.
Nonetheless, Kyle Karros said their father would offer one piece of advice to emotionally deal with the setbacks.
“He would say, ‘Stay with it,'” Kyle Karros said. “And he’s (Jared Karros is) doing a great job of staying with it.”
Next up for the Bruins
UCLA will take on UC Irvine (28-21, 13-11 Big West) in its final midweek matchup Tuesday. The Bruins lost 4-2 when they hosted the Anteaters at Jackie Robinson Stadium on April 26, and they will travel to Anteater Ballpark in Irvine to complete the season series.
Senior left-hander Daniel Colwell will take the mound as the Bruins’ now-Tuesday starter. He will face Irvine’s right-hander Andre Antone, who will make the second start of his five-year career as an Anteater.
Through two Tuesday starts, Colwell has thrown for five innings and allowed two runs, good for a 3.60 ERA. He appeared in relief during the Bruins and Anteaters’ first meeting, allowing one hit over 2.2 innings.
First pitch is at 6 pm