Puerto Rico postgame interviews March 17
Q. Congratulations, guys. Edwin, what, can you explain the feelings that you have, and the other guys can explain it, too, about this run you've been on, winning three elimination games in the last five days.
EDWIN RODRIGUEZ: Yes, there's a lot of emotions since we start playing down in Puerto Rico the first round. We faced in that round. We faced Dominican Republic and we faced Venezuela, and so having the chance to eliminate Venezuela in that second game, there was a lot of emotion. So we were very satisfied and we were very happy to pass the second round, but we knew that we have something good going on after we passed to the second round. So that we went to Miami, although we lost the first game to the United States and the winning the next two, that was huge. Then coming here and winning, and for the first time somebody's eliminating the team Japan. So that means a lot. That's a lot of emotions. We know that there's a lot of people down in Puerto Rico are watching and this win is huge. The way that these guys have been playing and performing is a huge performance and a huge accomplishment for the people in Puerto Rico not only for the players and youngsters, but also for the whole country.
Q. (Not in English.) Before the game, and I think Edwin said in Miami, he wasn't worried about Alex Rios. He was sure he would be good at hitting. He said that in Miami. With this series, 125 you've been playing, how do you come to this moment so ready?
ALEX RIOS: For us, this is like Spring Training. We're still in a preparation phase. We have to understand that we're not at our maximum. We have to work on our approach and the game and do our job as well as we can. We can't just be worried about mechanics. It's just the approach. Thanks to our results, which were favorable tonight, we have done well.
Q. (Not in English.) Congratulations to all three of you. Edwin, I know the feeling in Puerto Rico is like craziness in the whole country.
EDWIN RODRIGUEZ: We are really happy. And we're very aware that Puerto Rico's watching us. They're really following what's happening here. Each of our boys is very aware of what this means. The way our team is playing, what that means for the entire country of Puerto Rico, not only in sports, but also in terms of the social aspects, we're all very satisfied, obviously, with these results.
MARIO SANTIAGO: I'm really happy. I know people in Puerto Rico must be so proud of our team that we have come so far. Our team, since we went to Florida to train, we have been really united and together. And that's what makes us really happy. Because their hearts are with us and we're with them, and thank you for your support.
Q. Mario, you came so far from home to pitch last year in Korea. How did it come that you signed back with the Dodgers and also having seen Rue, how do you compare yourself to him?
MARIO SANTIAGO: (Not in English.) True, last year, I was in Korea and now I signed with the Dodgers. I'm really happy with the success that I've had. And now coming to the states this year to accomplish my dream of playing in the major leagues, that's really important for me. We'll see what happens with my career, if I'll go back there or stay here. But I think every player has the dream of playing in the major leagues.
Q. (Not in English.) For Edwin and Mario, we saw the offense. How important is that when you don't know how the pitchers are?
MARIO SANTIAGO: Well, since I came here and since we played together in Puerto Rico, I follow him. Because it's not that I think it is, he is the best catcher that we have in the Big Leagues, major leagues and in the entire world. We're still following through on this plan. We always have to attack. That's what we did today. And we have seen the results.
EDWIN RODRIGUEZ: (Not in English.) Everyone knows Yadier's abilities. And every year the Major Leagues are really paying attention and he is improving. Everyone knows the numbers, the statistics, but Yadier's leadership, that's something you can't quantify and that's what we saw today. We saw the energy, we saw the intensity, the way that he plays, the control of the entire game. That's why Yadier is the best in the world.
Q. (Not in English.) Alex, Edwin already said he wants to see a final of Dominican Republic against Puerto Rico. But today Puerto Rico wasn't a favorite and it did win. Do you think Dominican Republic can lose to Holland?
ALEX RIOS: You know what? Anything can happen. We're trying to take advantage of all the opportunities that we have to hit some runs, to do everything we can. And there are no small opponents, no large opponents. You know what, we have seen this when we played against Venezuela, U.S., now with Japan, you know? We have to take advantage of the situation and see the results.
Q. (Not in English.) They say that to win a competition like this, you have to win the best. But you know Puerto Rico's root has been too difficult. You took out Venezuela, you took out the U.S., and now you took out Japan, the only one of the major favorites. We'll see that tomorrow. So now you could say there's no pressure on you.
EDWIN RODRIGUEZ: (Not in English.) You know what, since we took out Venezuela, which was a major strong team, since we took out Venezuela, the trust that we developed in that bullpen with that young boy, he's like a 20 year old, I think that was huge. And we have been saying that, that first round was major. It was crucial. That was a really strong opponent. And it will still be difficult for us, but the bitter stage is over, it's behind us.
Q. (Not in English.) You know what, congratulations to all of you. You eliminated Team USA, but this game will be in the U.S., and do you think it's important for the fans who are here who are American to remember that you are U.S. citizens as well and perhaps they should cheer for Team Puerto Rico on Tuesday night?
EDWIN RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, I know, I know (Laughter). But we understand that we're in San Francisco, and we all know that the West Coast, San Francisco, there's a huge Asian fan base here and we all saw that today. But, yeah, it was good to see a lot of Puerto Ricans there and a lot of the Americans have been cheering for us. But I think that the fans at this point, they're just cheering for good teams, for good baseball. I think that's what we saw today.
ALEX RIOS: I think he said it all (Laughter).
Q. For Mario Santiago. Yesterday the Japan coaches were telling me how good they thought you were, but tonight after the game, they were surprised that you were better than they thought you were. So how did you approach this game against such a tough opponent?
MARIO SANTIAGO: (Not in English.) Well, I did have some knowledge, but I had training with them in Japan. That was our training. I faced off with two teams there. I already knew more or less how their pitching style is and I already knew Yadier also already knew, and that's what I was working on. Every pitch that was coming is what I was ready for, and that's what helped me the most to win this game.
Q. (Not in English.) We know this is a short championship, but you have one more day. Do you think you have the advantage of being able to study your rival tomorrow?
EDWIN RODRIGUEZ: (Not in English.) I think we already have a good idea. We played twice with the Dominican Republic. We have seen them playing quite a bit. We don't need to see them again, we have seen them in the Major Leagues now. The Netherlands, yeah, we have seen them. We have the benefit of technology. We have a good idea of how to play against any of them. But right now, we're talking about advantages, disadvantages. Well, you can't really assure anything in this kind of a championship. Tomorrow we could be relaxed, maybe watching the game, but I don't think that there's going to be any kind of analysis or report.
Q. Two things, for Alex, obviously, you're very familiar with Yadier from being in the Big Leagues. Being on the team with him these few weeks, what have you learned about him?
ALEX RIOS: Well, he's a great catcher, as you can see. He knows how to keep the pace, he knows how to obviously call great games. He's the leader. He's one of our leaders. He comes to the field to work hard. He gives it all out there. He's a great player. There's not much you can say about him, the way he calls the games and his leadership means a lot to this team. We have accomplished so much in part with the way he calls the games and the way he manages the pitchers and it's been great to have him. I mean I would love to have him on my team in the Big Leagues. But he's a great leader.
Q. For Edwin, just on that same topic. You mentioned Yadier before, but when you're bringing in all the relievers. Do you just feel a different confidence because of the catcher behind the plate, whoever you bring in?
EDWIN RODRIGUEZ: Definitely, definitely. It's a different feeling as a manager when you have Yadier behind the plate. I've been managing every where, Big Leagues, AAA, winter ball, and it's a different feeling when you have Yadier behind the plate. He's studied the game. He takes everything very seriously. I've known him since he was 14 years before he signed as a professional, and he's always been like that. He takes his job, because it's a job for him, to the next level.
Q. Alex, can you take us through that at bat when you got the home run and then maybe describe as you're rounding third base, guys were jumping over the railing to get out and greet you. Kind of describe what you felt as you were coming around third base.
ALEX RIOS: It was a very exciting at bat. We took a three run lead. Actually the pitch that I hit, I saw it earlier in that at bat. He threw that change up and then he repeated that change up in the third pitch, and that's the one that I saw. And I guess I put a good turn on it and the ball went out. That gave us that three run lead. It was a very, very emotional at bat. When we had that lead, it made things so much I guess for the pitchers, it gave them a little cushion and it's exciting. The whole tournament, it's been exciting for us and we're very proud of what we have done. And it means a lot to us and for our fans.
Q. (Not in English.) So this is a question to Mario and Manager Rodriguez. Manager Rodriguez, about the combination of Japanese team, you are saying that you have some idea about them. Today what kind of advice did you give to your hitters and how are you going to attack them? And to Mario, what are you thinking in your mind when you're pitching today against Japanese hitters?
MARIO SANTIAGO: (Not in English.) Well, today, was a difficult day for me. Today was difficult for me. What I was thinking of was following my catcher, helping Yadier. And I have the knowledge. I know a bit about the Japanese hitters. As I said before, I've seen them before in Japan in training last year. I did training there in Japan last year. I know what they're like, what they don't like, their hitters, in terms of the Japanese hitters, I mean. I think the key today was really following Yadier Molina. We all know he's the best Major League catcher. It was all about following his pitching rhythm, the pitching rhythm, which was quick, and that's what we did, just follow through on that.
EDWIN RODRIGUEZ: (Not in English.) Yes, in terms of how to pitch to Japanese hitters, there's actually no secret. The strategy in terms of throwing for a Major League team, it's straight throwing, and secondary throwing is more effective. That's what Mario and Yadier did, was throwing straight to the inner part and then later secondary hitting is more effective. So really there's no weakness in the Japanese team, but rather our strategy, which has worked for Mario, was what I just outlined. And that's what works in the Major Leagues.
Q. How did you advise your batters against the Japanese pitchers?
EDWIN RODRIGUEZ: (Not in English.) Well, the score says how they pitched. 3 1, the game today. I consider that they only made one mistake. That was with Alex Rios. And that's what Major League players do, we take advantage of mistakes. Out of the hundreds of pitches that we saw today, those were very effective pitches. Now, Puerto Rican hitters would say that those were really good pitches. There was just one error and that was what happened with Alex. He took advantage of that.