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Thursday January 31, 2013UF Baseball Quotes From Thursday Media Availability

Gainesville, Fla.

Head coach Kevin O’Sullivan, junior right-hander Keenan Kish (Worcester, Pa.), junior left-hander Daniel Gibson (Lutz, Fla.) and sophomore outfielder/right-hander Justin Shafer (Lake Wales, Fla.) of the Gator baseball team met with the media on Thursday prior to practice. The Gators will begin their season on Feb. 15, when Duke visits McKethan Stadium for the opener of a three-game series.

 

Head Coach Kevin O’Sullivan

On the Gators’ pitching staff this season:

“I think it starts with (Jonathon) Crawford and (Karsten) Whitson, obviously; we’ve also got some older guys like (Keenan) Kish and (Daniel) Gibson who we will obviously lean heavily on this year. But, we also have some freshmen who are throwing the ball really well through the fall and into the spring now. We do like our depth, but we’ve got to get a bunch of young guys out there early and kind of get their feet wet.”

 

On outlook of finding a third starting pitcher:

“The outlook is positive; we just don’t know who it is yet. Probably by next weekend we’ll have a much better idea. There are some guys fighting for those weekend spots right now, but we’ve still got a few more scrimmages to go until we firm that up.”

 

On the benefit of Keenan Kish, who can start, close or be a middle reliever:

“It’s extremely valuable; we would like to start him because I think he has earned the right to do that. If we don’t have any options at the end of the game, then we’d be forced to put him in. But, I do feel comfortable right now that he has put himself hopefully in a good position to start.”

 

On placing a veteran in the third starting position instead of a freshman:

“Freshman, sophomore, junior, senior; I’ll go with the best guy available.”

 

On the sophomores having the advantage to have gone to the College World Series last season:

“Well, I don’t think there’s anything that can replace that. The experience that they got last year, not only playing in the SEC, but having a chance to advance; I think it does nothing but help with their development and with helping the younger players as well. There’s no substitute for experience and certainly some of those guys have played in some big games.”

 

On Justin Shafer’s development:

“I think he’s a much better defender. You’ve got to remember, he was an infielder coming out of high school; he hadn’t played a whole lot of outfield, and I thought he got better as the season went on but this year he’s totally different. He’s a really good defender, but other than his defense, we’ll bump him up a few spots in the lineup and we’ll expect him to hit right in the middle. The one thing you will see out of him this year is that he’ll be pitching a lot more. I don’t know what his role will be; he’s one guy that we’re looking to put at the end of the game because he’s competitive and he’s got good enough stuff to do it. I’d feel very comfortable with him with the lead on the mound to get the last three outs of the game.”

 

On the team being exciting to watch this year:

“I think every year is exciting; I think every team is exciting [to watch]. Obviously, we’re going to have a different identity, but hopefully it will be a winning identity.”

 

Keenan Kish

On what the spring workouts have been like:

“Just working hard; making sure I’m prepared to do whatever I need to do, whenever I’m called upon, and just ready to help out in any situation possible.”

 

On preparation towards earning the third starting pitching job or being a closer:

“As far as preparation, being in the bullpen and then as a closer; the daily routine, getting yourself ready before the game and during the game; it’s a little bit different. But honestly, pitching is the same; just going out there and trying to win. I feel comfortable with doing both.”

 

On the difference in being a starter than a reliever:

“It would be a little bit different, but at the end of the day it’s still pitching. I still have to go out there; got to go play; got to go execute. It’s just a different timing of the ballgame but no, no real difference.”

 

On what pitches he has refined during the off-season:

“I’ve really been working on my changeup; really developing that as a third pitch to be able to have in my back pocket. Also, I’m just trying to develop all of my pitches.”

 

On closing last year during the NCAA Gainesville Super Regional:

“Closing last year was great, from a personal standpoint. It was a real confidence booster and it kind of gave me some momentum, especially going to Omaha and pitching against South Carolina. I was feeling really good and our team had a good run; it was just a great momentum builder.”

 

On helping out the younger guys on the team:

“A lot of new faces and new personnel; really, I’m just trying to get these guys ready as much as possible by showing them the ropes; how to go about their business each day and making sure they’re doing well in the classrooms so they don’t have to worry about that when they get on the field and they can concentrate and get their work in here.”

 

On freshmen pitchers that have impressed him:

“Obviously, they’re a really talented group of guys. Tucker Simpson has really been throwing the ball well; Eric Hanhold, Jay Carmichael, Mike Vinson and Danny Young has a great left arm. We’re going to be pretty deep and for years to come those guys are going to be really solid pitchers.”

 

Daniel Gibson

On the pitching staff as a strength of team this year:

“When it comes to the pitching staff, it’s a group of guys in which maybe not everyone has had their shot to have a prominent role, but we have some experience. Maybe we won’t be pitching the same as we have in the last couple of years, but it’s definitely a strength this team is going to have to rely on; and we’re all ready for that.”

 

On him and Keenan Kish trying to figure out their role this year:

“I think for both of us; we have the same goal, and that’s just to pitch and contribute to the team. They haven’t really told us, either of us, what our role is, but we have to go out there and do the best we can for however many innings they throw us in and just work hard to get better.”

 

On possibly winning that third starting job:

“Yes; me and Keenan (Kish) are fighting for that same end goal. We’re fighting for that last starting spot on the weekend; but whatever role I’m put in to help my team, I’m willing to do that.”

 

On new leadership roles in the bullpen:

“There’s leadership out of different guys this year. The last two years was the same core group here and that kind of chews up the majority of the innings. They’re not here anymore though, so I’d say maybe the workload and backbone are not there anymore; but there are guys here that are ready to step up into those roles and are ready to take advantage of the opportunities. I feel like it has to be a group effort in that aspect, not just one or two guys. It’s everyone that has been here, helping out the new guys, because they’re going to be a big part of the team; especially the pitching staff this year.”

 

On what he needs to do to be effective this year:

“I’d say consistency. Last year, I kind of had more ups than downs but there were still more downs that I would have liked. I think this year it’s just trying to stay more consistent every time out, and building off from the previous outings.”

 

On pitches he’s been working on this year:

“An overall command of all three; but then also I’ve been working a lot on my off-speed especially; changeup, slider; trying to get those downs and be more consistent.

 

Justin Shafer

On how he feels this year:

“I think the biggest thing of having been here one year is that you know what to expect; you’ve seen a lot of the people you’re going to face hitting-wise; I mean as a freshman, you don’t really know what to expect pitching-wise. I know you get here and it’s kind of overwhelming with everyone throwing 90 mph pitches every day; so getting used to that, you kind of know what to expect every day, in and out with the SEC pitching.”

 

On what he thinks of pitching staff:

“Our pitchers grind. I think we have a great pitching staff compared to anyone in the country. I mean you’ve got (Jonathon) Crawford throwing on Fridays, and everyone else that we’ve got behind him. Everyone is going to throw well.”

 

On becoming a better hitter by going against the team’s pitchers:

“Definitely; I don’t think I will face anyone better than [Jonathon] Crawford.”

 

On his role pitching this year:

“Anyway I can help, I’ll be excited. I don’t know how much that will end up being, but whatever helps us win, I’m ready to do it; whether it’s relieving or closing.”

 

On having to prepare for both (hitting and pitching) now:

“I still spend most of my time usually on the fields; they just take it easy throwing-wise since I’ll be pitching more, so I don’t throw as much in practice; I kind of just hit and during scrimmages I just throw the ball.”

 

On being a potential closer:

“If I get it, I’ll love it. I love being in those situations of having to close out games; I love pressure situations so if they ask me to do it I’ll do the best I can.”

 

On going to the College World Series as a freshman:

“You’ve kind of been through everything you can as a freshman, so you now know what to expect; there’s not going to be anything this year that I haven’t seen last year so hopefully I’ll help the freshmen out since they haven’t been through it yet. I know the struggles that I had last year so hopefully I can help the freshmen with what I went through.”

 

On hitting in the middle of the order:

“I think I’m definitely going to have to adjust at the plate; at the bottom of the order you see more fastballs. I will see more off-speed pitches now, so I have to make sure I don’t miss the fastball when I get it because at the bottom [of the order] if you miss one, you might get another; but as soon as you miss one in the middle [of the order], you might never get another.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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