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Q & A with Turtle Part 1

We're down to 42 days before the FIU baseball season opens at home against USC. On Friday, February 22 at 7 p.m., Turtle Thomas makes his debut as the Golden Panthers new baseball coach.

Tt Having encountered success at top programs like Clemson, Georgia Tech, LSU and Arizona State before arriving at FIU, TT expects to develop the Golden Panthers into the baseball power it should have been a long time ago.

Here is the first of our 4-part series of your questions & Turtle's answers:

Yandro: Have you heard anything from the players about them being more pumped up for this season with the change in leadership as opposed to previous seasons?

TT: Players always feel pumped up when a new season is getting ready to arrive no matter who is coaching them. But I think there is a feeling of newness and freshness. I think the toughness of our schedule is a big challenge maybe a little more so than in the past I would guess.

fiufan751 & Concerned Fan: As far as catching, shortstop, 2nd base and center field what did you learn from the fall practices/intersquads and who will be getting time at those positions?

TT: Good question there. Right now we think that Junior Arrojo is the starting shortstop. He has been the most consistent guy with the hands, making the plays and throwing across the diamond at this point. He made some errors last year, but I think that error total will be much less this year, because he'll understand college baseball and what it takes a little more. If we had to start today Ryan Mollica would be our second baseman. Ryan is a nice left-handed hitter and is continuing to improve on defense. Center field is going to be interesting. Ty Main, a freshman from Maryland has been working pretty good out there. We also got in a new guy that hasn't been cleared yet. Baseball America labeled Qeus_2 Ca_2 him as a potential All-American from Northern California. (Because he has not been cleared TT could not divulge the player's name). Catching-wise Kevin Mirabal is the returner behind the plate. We also got Steven Stropp from Central Florida and we also got Ruy Rodriguez from Texas-Pan American. So those three guys are fighting for the two catching slots.

paradox: When do you plan on releasing the roster for the 2008 season?

TT: I would say within the next two weeks. There definitely have been a lot of changes. The roster is a lot different now than it was in the fall. 

CJ: I personally have never been a baseball fan, yet I am an FIU fan so my question is what are you planning to do for the non-baseball fans to get them more involved?

TT: We're setting up and talking to different organizations and groups about FIU and college baseball. We're trying to sell some season tickets to them and the like. We're also trying to get some schools involved to try to come to some of our games and some kids from parks as well.

Baltimorepanther: Relating with other coaches at FIU. Do you guys get together and share ideas of recruiting and personal experience?

TT: It's funny we do some along the way when we have coaches meetings. We got a lot of good coaches here at FIU. We had a head coaches meeting on Tuesday and that afternoon I implemented something that one of them said about some academic stuff that I thought was a great idea. So yes, we do share thoughts and ideas.

PANTHER PAWSE

NoFIUBlackandGold: Welcome to the GPP. But you got the wrong colors, unless you're a Pittsburgh Steelers fan. I got some reliable sources that have confirmed to me that the school colors ARE NOT going to change. If anything, we'll see a shinier dark blue next season. The regular blue FIU has always had is getting an upgrade but definitely NO black. The gold will remain along with the blue for FIU.

SouthPaw: Last I heard Jonas Murrell is expected back for fall practice.

FIU Fanatic #1: Welcome to the GPP. If you go to the FIU football home page on fiusports.com you can Av click on an icon that reads Send In Your Game Tape. There you can have the second coming of Adam Vinatieri contact the FIU coaching staff.

Crazy Cane: Thought you had left us and gone down with the Orange Bowl. Welcome back. I was not taking a knock on your boy Kyle Wright. I was trying to make a point that all these stars that these "recruiting experts/gurus" hand out don't mean squat when it comes to predicting how well a player will perform in college. Yes, KW had excuses like bad head coaches, o-coordinators and a bad haircut, but the five-stars Rivals and all those other recruiting fortune tellers gave him were way too much.

Part 2 of the Q & A with TT will continue on the next blog.

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Thanks for the always entertaining blog, Pete. Let's hope that potential All American from Northern California is given the go ahead by the NCAA Clearinghouse, and I'm curious as to how the roster will end up as well.

I'm also kind of relieved you got the information that the basic Blue and Gold are going to be kept as FIU's colors. It doesn't really matter to me much the shade of blue..as I've seen different blues..and certainly "gold" (mostly yellowish until recently) throughout my association with FIU...

I'm also glad to see about the colors. Being so young, FIU doesn't have many traditions, the one we do have is our colors so we need to keep those and develop those.

I can't wait to see what the baseball team has in store this season. I will most likely be at the entire weekend series against USC.

Pete, are any of the FIU hoops conference regular season games on TV? If yes, will they be on CSS, ESPN, ESPN2, etc.?

Huge game for men's hoops on Sat. Road game @ Western Kentucky is NEVER easy. A victory @ Western could send a strong message to the conference!

GO FIU!!!

Pete, thanks for doing the baseball Q & A with Turtle. Definately pumped for this upcoming season and I'll be out there when we open against USC!

Ultimate is right very big game for fiu sat. i didnt even see that there was talk of changing the colors. will be happy w/ a darker blue and gold ... dont change other than that

I'll definitely be there the weekend against USC. There's much optimism with the FIU athletics. It is definitely on the rise with hiring of MC and TT!!!

GO FIU!!!

Pete, any truth to the rumor that Don Soldinger has been hired at FIU football?

Soldinger would be a great hire. FIU Fanatic...where do you hear those rumors???

Well, I just read it on a board of FAU fans...

http://fauowlsnest.com/board/index.php?topic=4542.0

Don Soldinger has not been hired at FIU and is NOT going to be hired at FIU.

UltimateFIUFan, you can catch the FIU hoops games on PantherPass at fiusports.com. As of now, there are no ESPN telecasts of FIU basketball.

Thanks for sharing that. I would really like that rumor to be true. He would be great for recruiting, and obviously with his history a great hire for FIU.

BTW, I really hope we beat FAU next year so some of those people posting can shove their comments.

GO FIU!!!

Thanks for your info, Pete....That guy is a UM/FAU fan that mostly despises FIU. Still wanted to find out if those rumors were true or not. Thank you...

There has to be a reason why D. Solinger has NEVER again worked as a football coach ANYWHERE, neither high school or college.

Big game tonight against Western Kentucky! My Panther Pass will be on! Hey Pete, why can't FIU Athletics leave the copy of the game on the site for a few days for those fans who might of missed the game?

GO FIU!!!

PantherPass (hopefully, depending on the lady..) with me also....Good question...once I had the same question to someone in Athletics, and his answer at the time was sort or like a technology situation or something like that, but didn't discard the notion of adding it up in the future.

I must say, the money spent there has been, for the most part..with its problems, well worth it.

Is there any chance that the baseball games will be web cast this year?

I talked to a friend who has two friend that work in the same company who have been long time UM baseball season ticket holders, who are actually buying season tickets for FIU baseball this year as well as for UM baseball. They absolutely love and respect Turtle Thomas and are not UM grads, so they are, for the first time, giving FIU their money, time, and support. I think this is pretty telling by itself.

Just wanted to pass along this information.

Here's another question for TT: Since Felipe Suarez has essentially had carte blanche over training and practicing of the pitching staff, and as far as I understand, TT has basically stayed away....come game time when a pitching change is needed, who is going to make the call? And can we still expect Ellison as the closer, since we didn't get to see him in the fall; fall practice not exactly providing the proper format to evaluate which pitcher has the ...shall we say personality .. to be the closer?
Okay, I guess that was actually two questions. I assume pitching questions will be answered in upcoming blogs.

I wanted to pass along a quick note I read. I'm sure many of you remember Brad Eldred. He was released by the Pirates and signed with the Chicago White Sox. Most likely he will begin the season at AAA but if there's an injury and he needs to be called up, he'll hit monster homeruns at US Cellular Field.

Pete, can you ask Sergio when he expects to be able to teach his team how to break a press? He's been talking about it since the first game.

hey there is a rumor going around the xavier shannon might leave FIU and transfer to UM.. for grad school. is this true pete?

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