March 18 Tony Pena and Robinson Cano interview, Dominican Republic
THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions for Robinson.
Q. (Not in English.) You've had an awesome tournament. It's like you're in shape for May, June. Have you thought of the impact beyond the Dominican Republic, representing your country for the rest of your career? For your next contract?
ROBINSON CANO: (Not in English.) I don't pay attention to the contract. I'm just trying to enjoy this to the maximum extent. We have people like Jose Reyes, Ramirez, Encarnacion, Dotel, Rodney, Casilla, all of those players, how can I put this? We're just trying to enjoy to the greatest extent possible our time here.
Q. (Not in English.) Tony Pena has been talking to us. He's realizing that you are developing a leadership capacity, which can serve not only the Dominican Republic, but also for the Yankees. Tell us about that experience.
ROBINSON CANO: (Not in English.) Well, I always try, since our first meeting. You know what? We have minor league players, we have different kinds of players, and we have to make a team among all these diverse people. And we, as a team, if we win, it's going to be as a team. If we lose, it's as a team. And thanks to them, we have done a good job up until now.
Q. (Not in English.) This is the third time that Dominican Republic is going up against the Netherlands. What do you think is going to happen tonight?
ROBINSON CANO: (Not in English.) We're not just looking for revenge. We just realize that to get to the final, we have to win. We have to do a good job.
Q. Both of you, you have a team loaded with talent. Most people believe you're favored to win today, and if you do, that you will be favored to win tomorrow. Are you feeling a lot of pressure to bring a championship to the people of the Dominican Republic?
TONY PENA: Not really. Not at all. I think this is day one. Everybody has asked the same question about this group of players. Yes, we have a good group. We have good players and they are very, very talented. But there's one thing for sure, we didn't take anything for granted. We're going to go out. We're going to play hard every single day, like we have been doing, and I didn't see us letting off. We're going to keep going.
ROBINSON CANO: He said it all. We don't know about being the favorite. If we make it here, both teams are great teams and we are here because we both got talent. So we got to go out there and perform. You don't win on paper. You have to go out there and give it everything you got and do the job and do the little things to win the game.
TONY PENA: There's one thing for sure about this ballclub, they're in the final. They're in the final for a reason. Okay. I didn't believe in a weak enemy at all, for the sole reason that they're here and in the final.
Q. Talk about Miguel Tejada a little bit about his veteran presence in the clubhouse, the mentorship that he brings to the younger guys on this team?
TONY PENA: Well, Miguel, we didn't have a captain on the team, but if anybody asked me who can be your captain, I would have said Miguel Tejada, because he is type of guy that he just comes and gives every single day. He gives everything he has. And just trying to help all these young players, and even the veteran guys.
Having Miguel Tejada on your ballclub means a lot to us. This is a guy that he plays every single year the winter ball, he prepares himself to play in the winter ball, to be here in this Classic, and I just am happy to have him.
Q. (Not in English.) I want to congratulate you on all of your success. The Dominican Republic lost twice against Holland as someone just stated. Now do you feel pressure that you need to win or is Holland facing more pressure because you guys haven't lost yet?
TONY PENA: (Not in English) you know, what's in the past is left behind in the past. I don't want to go back on the past. The past teaches us how to live the present, and the present teaches us how to not make the same mistakes that we have made in the past.
Today we're grounded in the present and that's it. None of my boys is talking about the past. All of us are talking about today. We have a new group totally different from the old group. So why would our boys feel pressure? There's no pressure. There is no pressure of any sort. No pressure.
Q. For either of you, what was your reaction to last night's game, Puerto Rico over Japan, with Japan kind of being the favorite.
ROBINSON CANO: Well, I wasn't surprised at all. Because like Tony said, both teams make it all the way to the semifinals because both have great talent and both did their job. As I always say, you don't want to go out there and take anything for granted. We don't think we're a favorite. We got to go out there and perform. It's not about paper. You got to go out on the field and perform. Q. Robinson, do you play your best when you feel free and easy, and is that easier for you to do when you're playing with all these guys from your homeland, guys that you're obviously having a lot of fun with?
ROBINSON CANO: Oh, I play the same way either here or with the Yankees. The difference here is that I would say that's how you play Caribbean baseball. You celebrate, you go out of the dugout and celebrate. That's how we play back home. We don't try to show anybody up.
I feel relaxed because I'm here with the Dominican Republic team. I feel the same way in New York, but you're going to play a longer season when you're in New York.
Q. Tony talked yesterday about how you have become really a leader on this team, more of a vocal leader. Do you think that will translate when you go back to the Yankees?
ROBINSON CANO: I haven't thought about that, but I was trying to be the same guy. If there's a guy that I can help, I'll always be there. If I can say anything to help the team, I'm always going to be there. But I always say that we are guys that have been in the league for a long time. You got Jeter, you got A Rod Mariano. I mean all those guys that are there, they have been there before, so what I'm trying to do right now is just go, be with the team, be there for them and take the good and the bad. So I would say one day, my time is going to come.
Q. For both of you, you guys have experienced winning the World Series with the Yankees. What did that mean compared to what this would mean? What would this mean if you were able to win your next two?
TONY PENA: For us, it's big, because we are here representing our country, and our country is about baseball. It's not about anything else. We grew up with a stick in our hands. We are representing 10 million people from our country. Winning right here is totally different. It's totally different.
In the World Series, it's four out of seven. In here, you have to win every single game to make it. If you lose, you're out. So every single day, you have to prepare. When you play in the World Series, you play one game, you play the first game, but you know that you can come back and win the second game, and then the series is tied. But if we lose, we go home. It's a totally different scenario.
Like Robbie said, this means a lot to us. This means a lot to us, to represent our country. Because there's no question, no question, those games right now, they are high energy games. You cannot leave anything in the clubhouse or at home. You got to go out and give it everything you got.
ROBINSON CANO: It's big for us. You don't have tomorrow here, so you have to go out there and win it all. It's like more like you have 10 million people in the Dominican Republic, but what about the rest of the world that is Dominicans that are watching the game? This is for your country. This is about that the country sees growing up, they teach you how to play baseball. And now it's a chance that you're going to have every four years.
It's not that you say, Okay, we get it next year. You don't know if you're going to be here again next year. It's really big for us. I mean, that's something that we want it for our country.
Q. Robinson, everybody was talking about Yadier Molina's intensity yesterday in his game. But it seemed the only other person to bring that intensity to the field throughout yesterday was your manager when he was throwing batting practice. I was just wondering how, how you, as a team, have fed off of that, and if there's anybody else in the mix and in your club house that has brought that kind of intensity to your team?
ROBINSON CANO: Well, we got that kind of energy, but we're going to play the same game. So you don't want to go out there and change anything. So we have been playing as a team. We're playing good, and all we got to do is just go out there and not change anything.
Q. For both of you, the way you describe it, it seems like with the Yankees, it's kind of your job, and this seems to be kind of the more fun part or different part of it. Is it harder to play in that environment with the Yankees and the Major League Baseball as opposed to being more fun in this environment? How would you kind of describe the difference between the two?
TONY PENA: When you love what you are doing, when you love what you're doing, you don't have to work. We are not working. I am not working, because this is what I love. This is my passion. And for me, baseball is number one in my priority. My family, baseball. And, no, no, totally wrong. This I love. This is my passion. And I don't have to work, because this is what I love to do. This is my hobby.
This is why I have so much fun every single day. And I want everybody around me to have fun. Because if you are afraid to be fired, then you are thinking too much about your work. See, I just having fun. Very simple. And I want all my players to have fun.
No, I don't consider this work. That's my hobby.
ROBINSON CANO: Well, for me, both are, I would say, my job. Him and I are different right now. I mean, I'm a player, he's a coach. So it's a different point of view of the game. But we both have got the same mission. We want to win here and win with the Yankees. But right now, we're talking about WBC. And when I get back to Spring Training, it's going to be a different story now.
Q. Tony, from your team and other teams, you know that some teams are a little worried about letting their players participate. They want them to get ready for the regular season. In terms of Hanley Ramirez, how difficult is it that not only is he away from his team, but he doesn't have a chance to play shortstop. How much might that put him behind?
TONY PENA: There's a reason why I said what I said before. This is so much, so big for our country, that players are willing to go away from their route to help the team. And going in, I asked those three shortstops that we have on our ballclub, and I told them, Listen, I would love to have you three guys in the same game in the lineup. I don't know how I am going to do it, unless one of you guys move and play third. See, and then we go.
I mean, right away, the players are starting to talk, because this thing is only two weeks, and we are representing our country. And Hanley just bought into this and said, I'll play third.
And this becomes a unit, this becomes a group, and this is the way I say, is no matter what happens, I'm proud, I'm very proud of every single one of those players that I have in my hands because what they have done and what they want to do. And I'm just proud to have it.
Now whether I play Reyes, Hanley or somebody else, and Hanley knows that I play him at third. We want to play everybody, but also, we want to win. And we are here to win. We are here to win and they understand that.
Q. (Not in English.) Congratulations, Tony. There are three who want to get to the final. Did you see the Puerto Rico/Japan game?
TONY PENA: (Not in English.) Yeah, I saw the whole thing. I saw the whole game. I saw the whole game. We are here on a mission. We, on our ballclub, our ballclub, the feeling is the same way. So that doesn't mean just because we are on a mission that we have to do everything. Only God knows. He's got the power. He's got the power. We only can put the effort, and the effort will be on the field.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you guys very much. Appreciate it.
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