March 19: Dominican Republic's Tony Pena and Miguel Tejada pregame interview
THE MODERATOR: We'll get started with the Dominican Republic press conference.
Q. For Miguel, you've been with this team for awhile and now you guys are basically on the brink of trying to win the title. What's the feeling for you right now as the progression of the Dominican Republic team from then until now?
MIGUEL TEJADA: It's a good feeling. It is a good feeling because especially we have been, I've been in the last two Classics and we don't get a chance to pass to the third round. But now we're in the final. I just got to say, just thank to God for the opportunity to give it to our team to do what we're doing in this tournament.
Q. (Not in English.) Edwin has been saying that since San Juan, there is some respect as well as rivalry between your two countries. Tell us about that.
TONY PENA: (Not in English.) The thing is, from the start, it's like we have always had that feeling, and we have a deep respect between the two of our teams. This is going to be another game, but this game is going to decide the entire contest. They're prepared, we're ready to go, and God is the only one who knows who is going to win here. I hope God is on our side and let's us prevail.
Q. (Not in English.) Samuel is a pitcher with experience in the major leagues. Tell us about his qualities as a pitcher. What makes him so special in a game as important as today's?
TONY PENA: (Not in English.) One of the things about Samuel is that Samuel is a fighter. He is battle‑hardened. Maybe they're listening to this. They could make adjustments based on what I'm saying here, so I'm going to be careful. But we hope for a good game, good throwing.
Q. (Not in English.) First and foremost, congratulations. We feel that there's a nervous climate today. What changed?
TONY PENA: (Not in English.) No, we're going forward. We're not nervous. We're really, really relaxed. Of course, from the start of this game things have changed. They're now different. But one thing is that Miguel, Cano, the veterans that we have and our all star roster, we are trying to create a game that keeps our team relaxed and united.
I didn't name the captain. He was named captain of the team, Miguel was.
Q. (Not in English.) You guys have defeated Puerto Rico twice. All of the past victories will not count, but this is the make or break. What kind of pressure does the DR feel? Maybe the third time is the charm? Yesterday you defeated the Netherlands, and Netherlands had defeated you guys twice. Could that happen to you?
TONY PENA: (Not in English.) You know what, the past is the past, as I've said before. We need to be concentrated and focused on the present. We have been focused game after game. We're not thinking about yesterday. We're thinking about what we have to do today. Our team, we're not talking about the past, what's past is past. We're talking about today. Our guys are really focused. Miguel can tell you that, too.
MIGUEL TEJADA: (Not in English.) You know, Tony just said this, the past is the past. I think we need to play a good ballgame today. And since day one we, have quite a bit of confidence and we know how to play well. We don't feel a lot of pressure.
We aren't thinking about what could happen or past tournaments. Right now, we just want to be together and we want to prevail as a team. Today we're going to be enjoying, we're going to be smiling, and we're upbeat.
Now, tomorrow we have to leave each other and that's the only sad thing is that tomorrow we will no longer be together as a team. Honestly, this has been an awesome week and I think we're all going to enjoy this just that much more because we're so happy.
Q. For both of you, the Dominican Republic has such a rich baseball history, so many kids have received so much from the game. So many stars have come out of your country. What is the magnitude of this game in terms of bringing home the first World Baseball Classic Championship?
TONY PENA: The only thing I can tell you is in the Dominican Republic, tonight, it will be nobody in the street. There will not be anybody watching any other channel. Soap opera, news, nothing. The whole country, the whole country will be watching the ballgame. Because in the Dominican Republic the number one pastime is baseball.
Like you said, all the kids, they want to be like any one of those super stars, and they watch what we do. And whenever you see this ballclub play, they play well out of emotion, because it is our culture. It is what we live for. In the Dominican Republic, all little kids that are growing up, they want to be a baseball player. And I think this group of players right here, they just want to pass the good way to those kids to remember that day.
It doesn't matter what happens today, but they will be proud of the Dominican Republic team.
MIGUEL TEJADA: I think that Tony just said everything for me. I think from my point, what I do, what I think of everybody and all those players in the clubhouse that want to be a good role model for all those kids in the Dominican Republic. And for Puerto Rico, for all over the country, the world, I think that what we do in the field, we just want all those kids to come to the field and not do anything in the street.
I think that like we say, we just want to do everything right and make sure those kids see what we do and try to keep that in them. We just want to have our generation and the upcoming generation, to be good baseball players in the field and outside the field, too.
Q. Miguel, your third try here at the World Baseball Classic. How fitting is it for you to finally get to the finals here and have it be held in the Bay Area, a place where you played for both the A's and Giants. How special is that for you?
MIGUEL TEJADA: It's special because when I came to the Bay Area, I always remember all the good times that I have here. And I want to thank the A's and the Giants to give me the opportunity to play in this area. It's a great area to play. I always loved it.
For me, I already enjoyed every game in the WBC. It's not only the game here to the playoffs, it's not just about that for me. I'm happy that the manager and GM picked me to be one of the guys to come to the WBC. I'm happy to be here. It is my third time here.
And right now we're in the position that we can get what we're looking for from the first day. And I just thank God for the opportunity to be in this group.
THE MODERATOR: All right, guys. Thank you very much for your time.
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