LOS ANGELES — Amid the hustle and hubbub, chaos and circumstance that has defined Christian Bergman’s introduction into Major League Baseball, the St. Francis High graduate seems to have found calm within the storm of opportunity.
“It started off really fast,” Bergman said Tuesday ahead of his Colorado Rockies’ National League West tilt against the host Los Angeles Dodgers. “It’s kinda starting to calm down.”
His phone isn’t ringing as much, the texts aren’t quite as prevalent and being a pitcher within the ranks of Major League Baseball is starting to settle in.
“Now I can concentrate on baseball, which is good,” Bergman said.
As far as baseball goes, Bergman has been pretty good.
In the two appearances and 12 innings that define his major league career thus far, he’s 0-1 with two quality starts, a 3.75 earned-run average and seven strikeouts with five hits and two walks allowed.
“He’s been impressive,” Rockies Manager Walt Weiss said. “He’s got a lot of composure for a young kid. The way that he handles himself is way beyond his experience level.”
While things are calming just a bit now for Bergman, his major league debut and the preceding days sped by in a hectic haze.
“It happened fast,” said Bergman, a former Golden Knights standout who’s now 26, sporting a long mane that reaches to just above his shoulders and half a sleeve of tattoos on his left arm that dips just below his jersey.
Though his move to the big club was officially made on Saturday, June 7, Bergman was told the day prior. He then had to catch a flight and get a hotel room on Saturday, answer myriad phone calls and texts before taking in a game on Sunday and taking the hill for his Major League Baseball debut June 9 at Coors Field against the Atlanta Braves.
“I thought I did a pretty good job,” Bergman said. “It was a bummer we lost, but I thought I kept us in the game and gave us a chance.”
Bergman took the defeat in the Braves’ 3-1 victory, but went six innings, giving up two runs, six hits, two walks and struck out four.
“I was just trying to focus on making my pitches,” Bergman said. “I was definitely nervous the first couple innings. Then I started to settle in and I could actually feel the ball again.”
On top of making his debut on the mound, Bergman, who was the 2006 All-Area Baseball Player of the Year with a 10-2 record and 1.54 ERA along with a .343 batting average, 20 runs batted in and 24 runs, got his first MLB hit with a single in his initial major league at-bat.
“I didn’t even really think about it,” said Bergman of the base hit to center field off Atlanta Braves starter Gavin Floyd.
As a bit of trivia, Bergman actually recorded his first hit before he allowed one, tallying his base knock in the bottom of the third inning, while holding the Braves’ lineup hitless through the first three innings before allowing a BJ Upton single to begin the fourth.
“I didn’t even realize it,” Bergman said. “That was kinda funny.”
On Saturday, Bergman returned to the bump on the road against the San Francisco Giants.
He threw six innings once again, allowing three runs and eight hits, while striking out three and walking none. But he didn’t factor in the decision in a game in which the Rockies won, 5-4.
“It’s been good so far,” Bergman said. “There’s definitely some things I can improve on. It’s about getting your feet wet and learning to pitch on the major league level.
“It’s starting to feel like a regular baseball game again. It’s just about getting better each and every game.”
Following his start at San Francisco, Bergman and the Rockies traveled farther south to face the Los Angeles Dodgers from Monday through Wednesday. But Bergman’s Southern California homecoming wouldn’t work out with a start in his hometown, as he is slated to take the bump back at Coors Field on Friday against the Milwaukee Brewers in opposition of Glendale Community College product Marco Estrada.
Still, returning to Southern California and seeing Dodger Stadium from a different vantage point wasn’t without its nostalgia.
“It was really just cool being on the field for batting practice cause I went to countless Dodger games when I was little,” Bergman said. “It’s cool to be able to come back here.
“Every day I wake up it feels good to go to Dodger Stadium rather than somewhere in triple A.”
Bergman’s spring began with the big club. Pitching in relief in a pair of games, he tossed three innings, struggling a bit in allowing three runs and six hits, struck out five, walked none and gained some invaluable experience. Perhaps more important in hindsight was simply building an entry level of familiarity with his future teammates.
“It was good that I was in major league spring training, so I got acquainted with a lot of the guys, so it wasn’t completely new,” said Bergman, who spent the regular season with triple-A Colorado Springs before his call-up.
Upon his debut, Bergman was the fourth Colorado player of the year to make his MLB debut, with teammates Tyler Matzek and Kyle Parker two and seven days later, respectively. In all, six current Rockies have made their MLB debuts this season, though Bergman admits that before his call-up he had no inclination of what was on the horizon.
“I knew what was going on with all the injuries,” said Bergman, who is part of a Rockies 40-man roster that has eight players on the disabled list, including standout hitters Carlos Gonzalez and Michael Cuddyer and five pitchers. “As far as people telling me I was in the conversation, I had no idea.”
Of the debuting half-dozen, five are pitchers, adding, at the very least, a sense of familiarity in a very unfamiliar new world that is the big leagues.
“We all kind of stick together, make mistakes together,” Bergman grinned.
Still, for as green as Bergman is to donning the Rockies purple, in just a short time, his performances have been notable and his intangibles have shined through.
“He’s been very impressive,” Weiss said. “He pitches to a game plan very well.
“He pitches with conviction.”
Much of Bergman’s early success and composure is likely due to the way he’s conducted himself, very much keeping his mouth closed and his eyes and ears wide open.
“He’s the epitome of that,” Weiss said. “I think that shows a respect for the game and a respect for his teammates. “
With less than two weeks’ worth of games and only a pair of starts under his belt, Bergman’s future appears just as bright as it is uncertain. But the undependable nature that very much defines a rookie season is hardly changing his approach.
“It’s just go out there every fifth day and pitch to the best of my ability and give us a chance to win and learn every chance I get,” Bergman said of his mindset going forward. “This is a great opportunity to learn. I can’t really waste my time and energy worrying about where I’ll be in a month. I’m just making the most of the opportunity to get better.”
Then again, that attitude might well be what bodes best for Bergman staying put in the show and the Rockies’ rotation.
“He’s got his ears open, his eyes open, which means he’s trying to get better,” Weiss said. “That’s gonna serve him well in his career. That gives him an edge.”
Follow Grant Gordon on Twitter: @TCNGrantGordon.