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Wednesday February 13, 2013UF Baseball Quotes From Final Media Availability Prior To Friday's Season Opener

Gainesville, Fla.

Head coach Kevin O’Sullivan, sophomore Casey Turgeon and (Palm Harbor, Fla.) and sophomore Taylor Gushue (Boca Raton, Fla.) of the Gator baseball team met with the media on Wednesday prior to practice. Florida’s season opener is two days away on Friday, Feb. 15, against Duke at McKethan Stadium.

 

Head Coach Kevin O’Sullivan

On who will be pitching in the Gators’ starting rotation this weekend against Duke:

“[RHP] Jonathon Crawford, [RHP] Tucker Simpson, and [RHP] Justin Shafer - in that order.”

 

On what not having junior RHP Karsten Whitson will do to the rotation and the team:

“We knew that there was a possibility that he might not pitch the first two weekends; we were kind of prepared for this so it hasn’t really changed a whole lot in regards to this weekend.”

 

On how Whitson’s feeling about not being able to pitch

“Obviously, he’s disappointed. I think anybody in his shoes would be a little disappointed, but we’re still staying optimistic.”

 

On what he sees from Tucker Simpson and the younger guys:

“He’s throwing strikes; he had a great fall; he’s having a great spring. He’s got great downhill of his ball; he’s got a great feel for the strike zone; he throws four pitches for strikes. He’s got a curve and a slider; he’s got an advanced feel for a changeup, and probably the most important component is that he’s very competitive. He’s pitched in some big games; he’s a guy that has been on the national scene for quite some time so he’s certainly ready for this challenge, I think. If we didn’t feel he was ready, we obviously wouldn’t be starting him in game 2. The younger guys have been throwing the ball very well, but obviously this is going to be a different deal when the lights go on Friday. I am anxious to get a lot of those guys out there; they certainly have enough talent.”

 

On whether he had any idea on who could be the closer:

“No; I think [Johnny] Magliozzi’s name has been thrown in there and we’ve been thinking about him; we certainly want to give him a role; he’s been throwing the ball really well. But, we feel like we have some good matchup guys in the bullpen; we’ve done the splits since the fall; our pitchers versus our hitters; obviously, in the spring as well. I think there are some definite numbers that just jump out at you as far as splits; as far as our pitchers are concerned.”

 

On how he feels coming into this season:

“We do feel good about ourselves; we also understand that everybody we play is going to be very talented and surely capable of beating us. We’re a youthful group and there’s going to be some ups and downs, but we’ve been practicing well.”

 

His thoughts about the season-opening opponent Duke:

“The return 8 of 9 starters; so they’ve got some experience there. They’ve got some experience on the mound; I think they’re going left, right, right; they’re an experienced group. I know Coach Chris Pollard and his staffs do a very good job and have had a tremendous amount of success, so it’s going to be a challenge for us, for sure.”

 

On Justin Shafer’s increased role being a two-way player this year:

“We like two-way players; and I know that Justin didn’t pitch a whole lot last year because quite frankly we didn’t need him to, but he’s earned his starting role. Our hitters are 2-for-38 since we started scrimmages so he’s been really good and I think he’s forced our hand to put him in a starting role.”

 

On changing the lineup and rotation going forward in the season:

“Sure; I think we always do that. We’ve never been set with a lineup on game 1 and stayed the same on game 56; we’ve had a lot of players work hard and earn the right to have an opportunity to play and show what they can do. We do have 12, 13 position players that we feel good about and we’ll kind of rotate those guys in and out and see what they can do. We try to get as many questions answered before we start SEC play and next year won’t be any different.”

 

On coaching this year’s team compared to last year’s:

“Your philosophy changes from year-to-year and everyone keeps talking about last year’s team. It is extremely difficult in the college game to get that type of power. To put things in perspective, we’ve lost 28 players the last two years; we’ve lost 11 recruits and 17 players off of our team to professional baseball. In retrospect, we’re getting some very good players but we’re also losing some as well. But, when you dissect our team and what its strengths are; we can run, we’re athletic and we’re going to do that. The teams that win in Omaha every year; it’s not about home runs or that type of thing. I’m very proud of who we have right now and what we’ve been able to do and I think this team has got a chance to be very successful; it’s just going to be in a different way.”

 

Sophomore Infielder Casey Turgeon

On the excitement of this season’s opening day:

“Everyone is excited to get out there and open up against Duke. We’re going to go out there, have a great game and see what happens.” 

 

On the relationship he has built with freshman shortstop Richie Martin:

“It’s going well; I’ve been telling him a lot of stuff about what’s to come. He picks up things fast and I feel like this year we’re going to be a pretty good duo up the middle.”

 

On what he thinks about freshman RHP Tucker Simpson:

“He’s a goofy kid; he’s huge. He throws the ball well; he hides it and he’s going to be a good asset for us this year pitching-wise.”

 

On what he is telling the freshmen about opening night:

“You can tell them everything you want but it’s one of those things in which they have to get out there and actually do it.”

 

On who has stood out to him during practices:

“All the younger guys; they come out every day and they play as hard as they possibly can. But, if I had to pick out a guy, it’d be Harrison Bader; I’ve taken him under my wing. He’s an outfielder; he’s got some good potential and this year he’ll surprise a lot of people.”

 

Sophomore Catcher Taylor Gushue

On what these last few days before the season opener have been like:

“They’ve been good; pretty good. I would have to say our practices have been a lot more focused; a lot more intense just because Friday is a big day. I know that these next two days we will be toning the scrimmages down and focusing more on the technical aspect of our game; concentrating on all the little things we need to go over just to get ready for Friday. Our practices have been awesome and I couldn’t be more excited.”

 

On this team’s potential:

“I think that our team has so many different pieces that are going to be great; so many different pieces to the puzzle that just fit the right way. For our potential, I think that it’s incredible; I couldn’t ask for anything more than what this team already has.”

 

On if he’s batting in the middle of the order:

“Ultimately, that’s the coach’s decision but as a personal goal of mine, that’s one of my goals this year.”

 

On his overall experience last season:

“It was different; it was nothing like I had experienced before. Coming from high school and having always been successful, it’s not what I was used to. But, coming into this year with a whole new perspective of how to deal with it and talking to the coaches about it and having them help me, I think that I wasn’t mentally ready last year. Standing in the position I am in now though, I am more than ready; I am more than capable.”

 

On having Mike Zunino’s help at catcher last season:

“Having Z [Zunino] was awesome; just seeing how he worked in different situations and how he caught; how he handled our pitching staff; that’s really what I took away from being behind him. No one handled the pitching staff the way he did; no one can handle the pitching staff that way; it was awesome, especially  having guys like [Jonathon] Crawford, Brian Johnson,  Austin Maddox  and Greg Larson all day on the mound is unbelievable. The amount of composure he had; how he controlled the game; that’s really what I took away from him.”

 

On how rotation will be affected by not having junior RHP Karsten Whitson:

“Karsten is an incredible pitcher but our younger guys will definitely have to step up this year and that’s how it will affect us. The younger guys are going to have to step up this year; that’s all. Our team is good enough to handle it; take it in stride; and we’ll just go from there.”

 

On how the offense is going to look like:

“It’s definitely a different feel than we had last year; with all the power that we had in our lineup - it’s unmatched. This year, I think we have so much more speed than we did last year; different facets to our game that we can add because we have so much speed. I think that’s going to help us tremendously; that’s one of those pieces of the puzzle that we have now that is pretty cool.”

 

On seeing himself as a producer when going up to bat:

“I do; I think I‘m going to have to be. The people who hit in the middle of the order, we’re going to have to produce and that’s the bottom line. Will we hit as many home runs as we did last year? No; but we’re going to do other things that put us on the board and that’s who we’re going to have to be this year.”

 

 

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