Justin Godsey: Why do you think it is important to connect with the fans? And where can we reach out to you?
Erik Turgeon: I think it is very important to reach out and connect with the fans because the fans make baseball so much more enjoyable for us as players. After every championship who does the winner always thank? The Fans because without them it is very difficult to get motivated to perform at your very best. I’m very easy to talk to, pull me aside before or after a game. I don’t mind at all signing things people want signed or answer any questions people might have about professional baseball. A lot of my fans follow me on twitter @ErikTurgeon, that’s a very easy way to get a hold of me.
Justin Godsey: Who influenced you into the sport of baseball?
Erik Turgeon: My dad is who has influenced me most in baseball. He played for the Cardinals back when he was a professional baseball player. Not only is he my biggest fan, he has helped me along the way answering questions I might have had but preparing me for whats to come and what is expected of me to be a professional baseball player.
Justin Godsey: Growing up in Florida you had the rays and marlins, did you watch them growing up?
Erik Turgeon: Im from Palm Harbor Florida so St. Pete home of the Tampa bay Rays is only 45 min away and we use to go to as many games as we could growing up. Not to mention tickets back when I was able to go to the game were only $3 making it very easy to be a rays fan on a high schooler’s budget.
Justin Godsey: Who was your favorite player growing up?
Erik Turgeon: My favorite player growing up was Sammy Sosa. When my dad played for the Cardinals his manager was Jim Riggleman, when he retired they stayed very close friends and Riggs moved on to be the Manager of the Cubs. After school every Cubs game use to be on TBS so I watched them everyday after school. I use to love how Sammy Sosa use to sprint out to his position before every game. I also named my dog Sammy after him.
Justin Godsey: Tell us about your High School baseball experience ?
Erik Turgeon: I went to Palm Harbor High School 9-10 grade but decided to transfer to Dunedin High School my Junior year because all my friends I have grown up playing baseball with went there and baseball is that schools #1 sport. I loved Dunedin High School, I actually coach there during the offseason and look forward to working with the kids every year. The head coach over their Tom Hilbert has been a huge part of my baseball success and it’s the least I can do to repay a man who has been such a big influence in my life.
Justin Godsey: Looking back during your high school years what game would you consider your greatest game of your high school years ?
Erik Turgeon: The one Game I can think of is the championship game for a Scout Team I played for after my Junior year in High School. I closed out the game to win the entire tournament 2 innings, 6 strike outs and after the game being handed 10 college and professional questionnaires to fill out for scouts and head coaches. Thats when the phone calls all started and scouts at every game. Ill never forget that.
Justin Godsey: After High school baseball did you receive any offers from college scouts? What colleges were really interested in you?
Erik Turgeon: I verbally committed to go to UConn after my junior year so I could have fun and play baseball without having to worry about the stress of college scouts being at the game and worrying if I have a bad game what they will think about me. I received letters and talked to coaches from UF, FSU,Miami, the big schools in Florida and many other schools out of state. I really wanted to go to school in a different state to mature both on and off the field also I wanted to handle responsibilities on my own and what better way then a college where I can’t just hop in a car and go home.
Justin Godsey: Why did you choose professional baseball over college baseball ?
Erik Turgeon: I choose to sign after my junior year at UConn because I felt I was mentally mature enough to handle professional baseball. When I was drafted by the Boston Red sox when I was in high school I was not ready to go out on my own. But college helped me in so many ways to grow up and when the Mets drafted me I had to go. I see it as school will always be there for me to finish up but the opportunity to play professional baseball may not.
Justin Godsey: In 2005 you were drafted by the Boston Red Sox, how excited were you to be drafted by the Bo Sox ?
Erik Turgeon: If I had to pick one of the most exciting things that has ever happened to me thats probably it. I told all the professional scouts that I am not going to sign I am choosing to go to college at this point in my career. With me saying that you do not expect a team to take a chance still because if I do not sign that waste that rounds pick for them and they do not get it back. So seeing my name then hearing it will be a memory I will never forget and always cherish.
Justin Godsey: After being drafted by Boston Red Sox you went to UConn and played on their baseball team, why did you decide to go to UConn ?
Erik Turgeon: To grow mentally and physically. As a high school kid we are so sheltered from the world per say and if you sign out of high school you are thrown into a mans game where it’s not play ball for fun if play ball this is your job if you fail your out and now what. Going to college in my opinion is a must in a baseball players growth in the game. Some offers you just can’t turn down I understand that, but high school kids must think about their future after baseball. Is 500,000 going to last you till your 30 years old, with not college education under your belt? Probably not.
Justin Godsey: Tell us about your college baseball career ?
Erik Turgeon: At UConn I signed to be a two way player, 3rd base and pitcher. That is exactly what i wanted to do in college, i was not ready to be a full time pitcher just yet because i love being a position player and playing every day. i started at 3rd base as a freshman in the Big East conference and was having a great freshman year until our Sunday game at West Virginia i got tied up with the shortstop and cleat stuck in the clay and tore my ACL, MCL Meniscus PCL and everything else you can mess up in one knee. that was my third ACL tear. i had 2 in the left knee and that was the first in the right knee. The news was devastating knowing very well the rehab for ACL is 12 grueling months. I am a firm believer in everything happens for a reason and with that outlook people can get through the toughest times a lot easier. I had three great years at UConn and wouldn’t trade one-second of any day I was there for anything in the world.
Justin Godsey: How did UConn coaches help step up your game?
Erik Turgeon: It takes a special person to be a college coach. Parents hand over basically there little boy to the coach, with intentions that this coach will make a well educated and respectful man out of us, with baseball coming behind all of that. My Coach at UConn Jim Penders did just that. He knew I have never been away from home for a long period of time and he made sure to always make sure I was doing fine. Jim Penders and his coaching staff provided every tool necessary for me to succeed in baseball and in life after baseball. And for that I will always be grateful.
Justin Godsey: in 2008 you re-entered the draft and were drafted in the 25th round by the Mets how excited were you? and what was the process like ?
Erik Turgeon: One thing everyone should know about this process is scouts come to all your practices all your games, they call you and sit down to lunch with you and every time you talk to them about the draft they tell you that you are a top 5 rounder. Well, thats pretty hard to sign every guy who wants to play baseball after college in the top 5 rounds. So draft day comes, round 1 is on the 5th, I’m not a first rounder I’m not going to watch I’m going fishing. Day 2 rounds 2-30 or something like that, oh yea! This scout said I was a top 5 rounder. After 10 rounds your name does not get called it becomes the most stressful and longest wait ever. When it happens you forget about all that and its pure joy no matter what round someone goes in.
Justin Godsey: Tell us about your time with New York Mets ?
Erik Turgeon: My time with the Mets was awesome, I have nothing bad to say about that organization. I was very blessed to get a chance with the Mets and gave them everything I had day in and day out. The coaches the scouts the front office everyone involved in the New York Mets organization is well knowledged and there for all the right reasons. I made so many great friends over there, and would say having talked to other guys in different organizations, the Mets go above and beyond to make sure their players have every resource to be a successful.
Justin Godsey: In 2012 you find yourself with the Pittsburgh Pirates, how is that going and how exciting is it so far ?
Erik Turgeon: I am very excited about this new chapter in my life, everyone needs a change of scenery every once in a while and my time was 2012. I was very happy to accept the Pirates offer to jump aboard with them. I have heard only great things about the direction the Bucs are heading. There is a lot of competition in minor league camp and I know from experience, organizations like this are always winners. I will give the pirates all I got just as I always have.
Justin Godsey: Your uncle is manager of fellow Pittsburgh Pirates minor league team the State College Spikes. What advice has he gave to you upon entering the Pirates farm system ?
Erik Turgeon: We didn’t have much time to really talk because the pirates picked me up the day after I was let go. But when they called me I was super excited to know I will get a chance to work with him during spring training because Dave is an amazing teacher of the game. He makes people around him smile all the time, and working with him will be an amazing experience for me.
Justin Godsey: What are we to expect from Erik Turgeon in 2013 ?
Erik Turgeon: In 2013 expect to see me leaving everything I got out on the field like always. I want to show the pirates how thankful I am for this opportunity by going out there and pitching like I know and they know how I can pitch.
Justin Godsey: What advice can you give high school and baseball prospects wanting to play professional baseball ?
Erik Turgeon: My advice to High School guys is go to a college where you can start right away, even if that means D2 or D3. I have played with a bunch of guys who went to smaller schools and there are a lot of Big League guys who did the same. Yea its pretty awesome going to a D1 big college but are you going to be really happy sitting on the bench waiting a year or two to finally get your chance? If you are good enough to play Professional baseball scouts will find you no matter where you are playing baseball. Also no matter what have fun playing the Game of baseball, remember its a game of failures, people who succeed 3-10 times are hall of famers. Don’t let this game change who you are, Remember the people in your life that have given up a lot or worked an extra shift at work so you could have a brand new glove. Keeping family close is more important then any baseball game you will ever play, Trust me!!