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Mazzotti / Perez Interview March 7


Q. This one is for the coach:  We don't know much about the Spain team.  Talk to us a little bit about what are the strengths and the weaknesses of the team, and a little bit about Sergio, who is going to be the starting pitcher of tomorrow's game.

            MAURO MAZZOTTI:  Fine.  Well, we are a new team, one of the last to qualify in this Classic tournament.  This is a team that has a lot of people from many countries who are going to represent Spain, and we are coming in here trying to play ball with good fundamentals, with good pitching, good defense, so we have a good chance.  I know it won't be easy because we are going to play against the strongest in the world right now, but we'll still try.

            Q.  Sergio, facing a team of Puerto Rico's tradition, what does that mean to you?  And if you've seen video already, the idea that you have about these batters?

            SERGIO PEREZ:  Well, yes, we already saw Puerto Rico play at Fort Myers against the Red Sox, and we talked about the batters a lot, and they are well‑known batters, but it is a pride to play for Spain.  I'm very excited to have this chance at this moment, and I'm going to take advantage of it and try to win the game as much as I can.

            Q.  For Sergio and Mauro:  Can you talk about what baseball is in Spain, because when we think about Spain we think about soccer and maybe basketball, but baseball for us is something new.  Can you talk about baseball in Spain.

            MAURO MAZZOTTI:  Yes, baseball is a minority sport in Spain, as there are many other minority sports.  We hope to take advantage of this chance of gaining more recognition because the president is talking more about us.  There has been more talk about us, and when we qualified in September against Israel and people learned that there was a Spanish selection that was going to play in such an important baseball tournament, then the newspapers they started to call and make interviews.

            So now we hope to play well so that they can start talking more.

            SERGIO PEREZ:  You know, the way I think about Spain's baseball is that everybody, all the Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Dominicans, we all came from Spain.  We have Latin blood, and like everything, baseball is very popular in Spain and for all Latinos, and we're glad to place it a little bit on the map.  We're going to be there representing, and we're showing that we have Spaniards that play baseball.

            Q.  Sergio, the experience that you had playing recently with the Magallanes, do you think it's going to help you in this tournament and facing Latino teams like Puerto Rico this time?

            SERGIO PEREZ:  Well, playing with the Magallanes that was something more special for me.  With so much talent playing against Puerto Rico at the Caribbean series, I knew some of the batters, and it was, I think a good experience for the future.  I didn't know I was going to be here playing against them, but yes, it was something special.  And winning, it's like showing us how to win it all.  So when we play this game, it's to win.

            Q.  Mauro, what do you know about Giancarlo Alvarado, who is the starting pitcher for Puerto Rico tomorrow?  And what do you understand is the key to having a good performance against him, the batters, the patience, and how will they approach him?

            MAURO MAZZOTTI:  Well, you know that this tournament is under pitch limits, so the opening pitcher is going to be key.  But after 65 pitches I've got to go to the bullpen.

            We won't pay too much attention in terms of the pitching staff that the team has because the bullpen is going to pitch daily.  So I believe that we have to focus ourselves on how we're going to play.  I believe that these are most important games in baseball, Spanish baseball history, so we have to focus on playing good, and I believe that surely with the adrenaline to play in front of many people, that's going to happen.

            Q.  In this pool the Dominican Republic as well as Venezuela are the favorites, what are your expectations?

            MAURO MAZZOTTI:  Well, we all know what the rosters are.  The rosters are the team logically that the expectations ‑‑ the expectations of Venezuela, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico are different than others.  But I believe that baseball has shown that it's not made for one game, it's not just for nine innings, three hours or playing long series of seven, five or seasons like 60 or however many games.  In a game, anything can happen.  It can be luck or it can be that the underachievers end up winning, and I believe that in the last Classic with the Netherlands, they beat the Dominicans.  That showed the world a lot.

            SERGIO PEREZ:  As a baseball player and talking with my fellow players, anything can happen.  We know the names and the strong teams, but I believe that no player will go out to the field just to lose.  I mean, we're going to do everything we can to win and be able to play good baseball and win the game.  We're not here just to play and see the experience.  When we go to the field, we go out to play, to win.

            Q.  Do you really think that an event like the World Baseball Classic of international fame will have a real impact in a European country like Spain?  They are really Latino players, foreign players, do you think it's going to have some impact in Spain, a sport that's not so popular?

            MAURO MAZZOTTI:  Well, we hope that we'll contribute news mostly.  If we can play good and we can try to win a game, I mean, the world changes.  I mean, right now there are a lot of people that are immigrants, a lot of people that have moved there from one country to another, and also Europe is a very important center of migration.

            For us the key is to be here, to be here playing with the best of the world right now and to give a chance to the media and Europe to talk about baseball.  Also there's Italy and Holland that are European countries, that since 2006 have been playing in the Classic, and that are trying to make that happen.  So we thank Major League Baseball for organizing this tournament.

            Q.  What strengths do you see in the team?  And to Sergio, what qualities do you believe you possess to beat the Puerto Rican team?

            MAURO MAZZOTTI:  Well, as I said before, I don't think there is any secret weapon in baseball.  You've got to play with solid fundamentals.  You have to not pitch too hard, and we've got to get outs, and the batters have to do the small things, because the game can come down to the wire.  We'll see in the end.  I've told people in the clubhouse, we're not going to look at the scoreboard; we're going to play inning by inning and see what happens.

            SERGIO PEREZ:  Well, let's not look at the scoreboard, let's play baseball.  We've been playing this game for many years, and we know that anything can happen.  And if they come and have their turn at bat and if they focus on the task that we're trying to do, anything can happen.  We're there to win.