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Marlins executives discuss Ichiro signing; Wade update; Details on UM's new ticket plan; UM recruiting notes

Several Marlins executives traveled to Tokyo this week for a press conference to announce the signing of 10-time All-Star outfielder Ichiro Suzuki.

Some highlights from a conference call with them before tonight's 10 p.m. press conference:

### Marlins president baseball operations Michael Hill, on the appeal of signing Ichiro: "We wanted to create the deepest 25-man roster we possibly could. When you can add one of the best All-time Japanese players to ever play the game, it made so much sense for us. Unless there's an injury, we'll use him various ways to try to keep him sharp and get him as many at-bats as possible. He's in incredible shape. He doesn't look like a 41-year-old. He looks like he has a number of years left in him."

### Marlins general manager Dan Jennings: "He'll be valued as a left-handed bat off the bench, a fourth outfielder."

### Marlins president David Samson: "The No. 1 thing he brings is the quality of player he is. It's a bonus he's a Hall of Famer and a Japanese player. We're here to play in October and he gives us the best chance to do that."

### Will it help market the Marlins in the Far East?

"We were one of the last two teams to not have a Japanese player along with Cincinnati," Samson said. "[For] the 10th commissioner, Rob Manfred, it's such an important initiative, international baseball. Baseball is so important to Japan. To not come here and not make it the proper import it deserves wouldn't have been smart for the Marlins or Major League Baseball."


### Dwyane Wade is expected to miss multiple games with a strained right hamstring sustained on Tuesday night against Milwaukee.

He missed seven games with a strained left hamstring earlier in the season, then two games with a less serious left hamstring injury earlier this month.

If Wade misses seven games --- and an exact timetable is impossible to determine at this point --- he would be out until the All-Star break. The Heat, which will be cautious with Wade, has seven games before the All-Star Game.


The Dolphins and UM have lots of work in the coming weeks as they unveil new ticket plans in a modernized, renovated Sun Life Stadium.

The Dolphins will announce their plan in February.

UM disclosed its plan this week, and here are some highlights:

### UM had 32,000 season-ticket holders last year, and there will be a clean slate in how those incumbent season-ticket holders select their seats for 2015.

Those season-ticket holders who made donations to the school in 2014 will have first choice of seats, with those making the largest donations selecting first, and so forth.

Incumbent season-ticket holders who haven’t donated will follow donors in the selection process, with priority given based on years as season-ticket holders.

But UM is allowing donors to raise their level of their 2014 donations by a Feb. 13 deadline before determining order of seat selection.

After that date, “everybody’s priority is locked in and we will assign selection times based on giving level,” UM associate athletic director Jesse Marks said.

“We will start that process on March 9. The highest donors will choose March 9 and that process will take two weeks. We will send out all that shortly after Feb. 13. People can go on-line to do it. Everyone will be given a personal URL [shortly after] the 13th.”

Pricing for tickets also will be announced at that time.

Marks said pricing will be "comparable" to last season and notes “it’s a completely different stadium.” Season tickets for potential new season-ticket holders will go on sale as soon as UM is finished with the re-seating process.

The quality of some seats will obviously improve. For example, some seats between the 35-yard lines will be moved 24 feet closer to the field. On the south side, those seats will go to Golden Canes (who all contribute at least $15,000 annually to the program).

On the north side, those best seats closer to the field will be available to anyone, with priority given to those who made the largest donations in the last calendar year. 

UM has 10 levels of donations. Those in the Champions level must contribute at least $55,000 annually. The minimum annual donation to join the Hurricane Club is $50; as of Tuesday, there were 8004 members.

The deadline to renew Hurricane Club membership is late-May. Though UM says some fans have said they won’t renew because of unhappiness with the football program, it’s too early to tell how many won’t renew.

Athletic director Blake James, Marks and others have done good work raising money amid fan disenchantment with the football program. The latest good news was Calais Campbell’s $1.6 million donation, the largest given by a former Hurricanes player.

Why the rise in big donations in the past year?  

Marks cites “messaging” and “continuity in the staff. The whole development staff has been here 2 ½ years. My long history with the university. Blake’s long history with the university…. [There’s] continuity with the athletic director which we haven’t had since Paul Dee.” 

### UM encourages fans to check out theusports.com/sunlife for stadium diagrams and additional information. Fans with questions also can call the UM ticket office at 305-284-2263.

### UM will not sell upper end zone seats as season tickets and will limit capacity to 55,000. Capacity can be increased to just south of 66,000 (the Dolphins capacity) for individual games, if UM chooses, but Marks said there have not been discussions yet about whether to do that for any of UM’s most attractive home games next season: Nebraska in mid-September or Virginia Tech or Georgia Tech.

As we noted a couple months ago, UM will open with Bethune Cookman, at FAU, Nebraska and at Cincinnati. There will be a bye after the Nebraska game. UM's ACC game dates and times will be announced at 10 a.m. Thursday.

### Couple recruiting notes: Georgia-based three-star linebacker Mohamed Barry said he will choose Thursday from among UM, Kansas State and Nebraska. Barry has given mixed messages.

A "soft" K-State commitment, he tweeted that he got "good vibes" from his visit with K-State coaches today. But he also raved about his interaction with Nebraska caoches. And in the past day, he posted a picture of Ray Lewis in a Canes uniform on his Twitter account (@BarrySwavey), which he has asked Canes fans to follow....

New York-based three star defensive end Austrian Robinson told rivals.com that Mississippi and Maryland are his leaders but that UM is still in the mix.... Five-star California-based defensive end Rasheem Green told Canesport that USC, UM and Arizona State are his finalists, but USC is "kind of" the favorite and "it would be a leap of faith for me to go" to Miami... Three-star Jacksonville-based defensive tackle Kendrick Norton told Canesport that there's a 60-percent chance he signs with UM.

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz