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Thursday January 30, 2014UF Baseball Quotes From Thursday Availability

Gainesville, Fla.

Head coach Kevin O’Sullivan, junior catcher Taylor Gushue (Boca Raton, Fla.)  junior infielder Josh Tobias (Greensboro, N.C.) and redshirt junior right-hander Karsten Whitson (Chipley, Fla.) of the Gator baseball team met with the media on Thursday prior to practice. The Gators will begin their 100th season on Feb. 14, when Maryland visits McKethan Stadium for the opener of a three-game series.

 

Head Coach Kevin O’Sullivan

On how soon this season started after last year’s finish:

“It usually always starts quickly, regardless of the outcome. We’ve been anxious to get back out here, put last year behind us, move forward and hopefully have a good year.”

 

On balancing last season as motivation while trying to put it behind:

“I think if you’re competitive, it surely is used as motivation. I don’t know if we have to continue to talk about it. It has been used as motivation, but I’m hoping the players are competitive enough where their memories aren’t that short and they remember what happened last year.”

 

On having RHP Karsten Whitson on the mound again:

“It’s very encouraging. He threw the other day, obviously the weather wasn’t great but he threw 42 pitches, close to 30 strikes, and 12 to 13 balls. His fastball had good life, he threw sliders for strikes; his changeup was a strike so I’m very encouraged with how he threw out the other day and I am looking forward to getting him out there again on Sunday.”

 

On being able to have a complete roster again:

“I know those questions come up about last year a lot, and we certainly don’t want to use excuses. Injuries and the Draft are something that all teams have to deal with, but, honestly, last year was a tough year for us. As far as our roster, we didn’t have many options position player-wise, or pitching-wise; we certainly have more options this year.”

 

Whether Karsten Whitson will progress gradually into the rotation:

“No, he’s been throwing all over break and since the fall so I think he’s ready to go. We’re going to treat him just like anybody else.”

 

On getting the group of infielders (Casey Turgeon, Richie Martin, Josh Tobias) back this season:

“We’re going to lean on them; they’re kind of our veterans. I know Richie is only a sophomore, but he started in just about every game he was able to last year except for the games he was injured. Now, Josh and Casey are juniors and we’re going to lean on them. Defensively, we should be really solid in the infield.”

 

Redshirt junior RHP Karsten Whitson

On missing last year:

“I am definitely looking forward to getting out there. I’ve been working really hard on the offseason with all of these guys and I think last year was a year that we really weren’t expecting to have, but it happened, and I think we have moved on from that and are looking to not let that happen again.”

 

On sitting on the sidelines:

 “It was tough. It was definitely tougher than I imagined but it was something that a lot of ballplayers go through. It was something that I learned from and something that I’m better for.”

 

What he takes away from not being able to play:

“Working on my mental game. It sounds kind of cliché but you really can learn from watching and hearing different things in the dugout.”

 

On what he envisioned being at the University of Florida:

“I’m at the greatest university in the country and I firmly believe that. I think I am with the best program, and it has been anything that I could have ever imagined it to be. I’ve grown a lot as a person and as a player. I’ve matured a lot and our coaching staff has supported me through everything, and the players as well. I’m just looking forward to getting out there this year and having a good season.”

 

On being back to where he was during freshman year:

“Coming back from surgery, there is a hump you have to get over. I definitely felt like I got over that in the fall.”

 

On getting back on the field:

“Just being out there is going to be awesome, and being out there with the guys. I think it’s what I miss most - just suiting up and having some of your best friends behind you and playing the game you love.”

 

On the freshmen pitchers:

“They are really impressive. They have a really good work ethic, and they listen. There are a lot of guys with really good arms, and we are going to need them this year. I am definitely looking forward to seeing those guys get out there and do their thing.”

 

On advice to the freshmen:

“I think the speed of the game picks up; it’s good to have the fall to get your feet wet and really see what it’s about.”

 

Advice on playing away games to the freshmen pitchers:

“It’s baseball. You have to block out everything around you. It’s you and the catcher. It’s just the same thing you’ve been doing since you’ve been playing baseball.”

 

On his lowest point of last season:

“Not being out there with the guys. You are here for three years and you build relationships. Guys expect you to be out there with them, and it’s tough when you have to deal with an injury like that so it’s tough feeling a little distant from the team. Watching from the sidelines was something I had obviously never experienced before.”

 

On what constitutes a successful season:

“We definitely want to get that taste of last year out of our mouths so we want to come out of the gates hopefully playing good baseball and getting back to where this program should be. It’s definitely not a .500 team. We know that and we have a lot of good ballplayers on this team. We are looking forward to having a big year.”

 

On individual goals that he has for himself:

“Being healthy right now, having fun with these guys and looking forward to the season. There is really not much more to think about other than that.”

 

Junior infielder Josh Tobias

On improving his power for the upcoming season:

“I just did a lot of work in the weight room. I’ve been working on bulking up and leaning out. I shortened my swing a little bit so there is more power to my swing now. A short swing always equates to more power.”

 

On his long-swing last year:

“I’d get jammed sometimes or mishit balls. If your swing is too long, it takes longer to get to the ball. The longer the swing is, the more mistakes you can have in it. The shorter the swing is, the more consistent it will be.”

 

On this season’s motivation after last year’s results:

“Obviously, we fell short of expectations last year, but we put it behind us now and this is a new year. We have a lot of chemistry this year and we want to show what we can do.”

 

On his previously-injured toe:

“It’s good. Surgery went well over the summer and I rehabbed all fall; it’s back to being 100 percent.”

 

On the biggest issue with his injury last year:

“Walking – and the worst thing on the baseball field was running and stopping. I couldn’t stop, and if I did, I would be in some pain.”

 

On where he sees himself playing:

“Wherever they put me in the lineup, I am going to do the best I can do.”

 

Junior catcher Taylor Gushue

On the attitude of the team this year:

“It’s unbelievable; the attitude coming back this year has been nothing but focused and hard-working and sheer excitement for the season to start.”

 

On eagerness to put last year’s season behind everyone:

“I put it behind me the second after we lost; it was not good. As a baseball player, you don’t really want to dwell on the past too much, you want to learn from it. I think that we’ve all done a really good job of not dwelling on that, but learning our lesson from it, and letting it be a little bit of a chip on our shoulder coming into this year and letting that manifest itself on how we work out in practice.”

 

On the return of RHP Karsten Whitson:

“He’s good, really good. He’s coming back strong. It’s difficult because just to come back from an injury and getting used to it and not really pitching for a few years, it’s tough. But, he’s getting back in the groove and he’s looking better. He’s throwing stuff really hard, his breaking stuff is really good; he’s putting it in the spot so he’s looking good.”

 

On having to watch Whitson sitting on the bench all of last season:

“It was hard because that amount of talent was sitting on the bench. It’s hard as a player knowing that that’s there and it’s not accessible. But, he has done a good job helping out our team this year. Now that the younger guys can look at him and they can see how he goes about his business on a day-to-day basis, I think that he will be a big factor on how well we do this year.”

 

On the freshmen pitchers who have stood out the most so far:

“(Logan) Shore, (Brett) Morales, (A.J.) Puk, (Dane) Dunning – they all had good fall workouts, they’ve all put a lot of good work in. (Shaun) Anderson is another one; I really don’t want to leave anybody out. All those guys really stood out in my mind.”

 

On having the middle of the infield back this season:

“It’s awesome; we don’t have to worry about it anymore. Casey (Turgeon) and Richie (Martin) are going to hold it down for us all year.”

 

On the team’s junior leadership this season:

“I don’t think there is a true senior on our roster, so the leadership is going to be from us juniors and the redshirt juniors this year. I’m looking forward to it; it’s going to be exciting. We don’t have all the answers to the test but we sure got a lot of them.”

 

Both single-game and season tickets for the 2014 Gator Baseball season can be purchased online at www.GatorZone.com/tickets or by calling the Gator Ticket Office at 1-800-34-GATOR from 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

 

For all of the latest information on Florida baseball, log on to http://www.gatorzone.com/baseball/ or follow the team’s Twitter account @GatorZoneBB at www.twitter.com/GatorZoneBB.

 

 

 

 

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