Puerto Rico postgame interviews March 9
Q. One game at a time, second game today. What can you tell us tonight?
EDWIN RODRIGUEZ: Well, it's an example of the philosophy that the guys and I established from the first day of practice, one day at a time. We put in action, we implemented from the first day of practice, the guys concentrated in that first day of work, first day of practice, and we have been taking it up until today, that powerful lineup of the Venezuela team which had my respect. The mere fact that the superstar to stay present, you have to take your hat off to them.
Q. The Venezuela team was favored, and the thought was you can't beat their lineup. In another interview they were saying that you don't play baseball with names, but with players. What is your opinion of this? Is this a surprise to beat Venezuela or did you assume that this was part of baseball's reality?
CARLOS BELTRAN: Well, honestly I think Venezuela has a great team, and obviously their roster is basically all Big Leaguers. But we are not surprised with the victory. Maybe some of fans were because they think baseball is characterized by the roster, and it's really not so. Baseball is characterized when you go out onto the baseball field. The best one that plays wins, and we did a great job. We stayed together ever since we met the first day in Spring Training in Florida, so we're very happy with our job and we're going to keep on going forward.
ANGEL PAGAN: Well, I think we as a team we concentrated on what we could do to try to implement the chemistry in the clubhouse. Like Edwin said, that was more important to try to know each other and try to get the best play out of each other.
Spain and Venezuela were tough. We didn't expect less intensity of the game, and I'm very proud of having played against such competitive teams and giving a show to the Puerto Rican people, and I think this is a positive example for our country. That regardless of the adversity, we can, kids that are coming up, they have to learn from this example that regardless of what people say, if you really want it, you can do it.
Q. Talk to me about the moment when the end of the game when you came out with the fans and the flag. And Edwin, I believe he was saying he has to keep today's notebook because you decided to bring Figueroa a day early, Giovanni in relief, then Wicho late in the game. Tell me about all that and the Achilles heel, which was the pitching, only allowed two runs the first part of the game.
CARLOS BELTRAN: I forgot the first part of the question. (Laughter).
No, look, I think that we were excited really because of the victory, because every victory is exciting. Nobody likes to lose, everybody likes to win, and honestly I think that today's game could see that anybody can be a hero in a game. And I believe that the most important moment today was the moment that Wicho's double to the right field. It's going to be his biggest hit in his career as a ballplayer. We came out onto the field to congratulate him, and we were very happy with this victory but we were happy for him because he's a ballplayer who has struggled a lot in his career. And I think these events are very important for any ballplayer who plays this sport.
Q. Edwin, you commented this afternoon the importance that everyone on this team could contribute, starting or not starting. What give you the impression with Wicho came in as a pinch hitter and that changed the course of the game? Talk to us about that decision. Was it a hunch?
EDWIN RODRIGUEZ: Well, first of all, I am trying to answer the second part of the previous question. The notebook, you trust your plans, the hitting coach, the coaches, but the plans may seem really nice, but if these gentlemen don't execute, then they don't work. I'm very proud of that team that they executed perfectly and more proud of the technical ability being totally dedicated to the cause.
As for the guys that came from the bench and they came out of the bullpen in key moments and were able to execute, I mean, from the beginning it has been said, and we've repeated, that the important thing is for each one of the members of the team was chosen for a purpose, with a motive and with a reason, and each one knew their role. An example of that is Mr. Luis "Wicho" Figueroa, who after sitting there for seven innings got the key hit of the game.
Q. Edwin, tomorrow's game with Dominican Republic, both teams have classified. Does that give you a chance of resting some players, or are you thinking about playing all your regular players, taking into account that rivalry? And if you could comment on Giovanni Soto's performance?
EDWIN RODRIGUEZ: Well, in terms of resting, yeah, some guys will rest, but we're not going to go in there to lose. From the beginning we said we're going to take one day at a time. Yesterday we beat Spain, and we beat Venezuela. We're going to come out to win. We have a day off on Monday when we go to Miami.
Giovanni Soto's job, that guy, he impresses me. He impresses me because he came with me into training camp in Cleveland, and he didn't look that good in the training camp. The first outing that he came in an exhibition game, but he grew today. The lineup that he faced, the best hitters not only in the Classic, the best hitters in baseball, and he held on and he kept the lead. Giovanni Soto's relief was key.
Q. Carlos, before signing on for the Classic you were saying you've seen a lot of changes, a lot of depth, and during a short series they could be overconfident and things like this could happen. Those statements at some point in time were like a joke, but now I would like to know what you think. Do you think that your statements at that time in some way woke your teammates and were important for what happened today?
CARLOS BELTRAN: Well, I can tell you one thing, that in the years I've been in baseball, through the years you learn a lot of things, and honestly this is my third Classic, and the first two Classics where I participated we played with a lot of stars and we had a lot of good players. It can be good and it can be bad because many times they don't tune in, and I really don't know the chemistry of the Venezuela team in this series, but I do know that they're all really good guys, they get along well. But the chemistry that we had this year in this Classic compared with the two previous ones was totally different. The unity was really spectacular because you mix your veteran players, players of six, seven years and players that do not have experience in the Big Leagues and they want to learn.
And I believe that we truly as players are setting an example to these young guys, and that has been the key why all these players that are on our team have grown. And honestly, I personally am proud of our team. I believe that we did an excellent job. We're going to continue working. I truly have seen that this is not going to stop in Miami.
Q. What effect do you think the success is going to have for the health of baseball in Puerto Rico and its popularity, and the chances of it recovering from the bad times it has had in the last few years?
EDWIN RODRIGUEZ: Okay, well, I think that baseball in Puerto Rico compared to maybe ten years ago is now in a crisis, so to speak, of amount of players, not quality, quantity. But I believe that this kind of tournament, this kind of Classic motivates players, and these two gentlemen that I have here with me know the commitment. They know what it means not only for baseball but for the Puerto Rican society. And I believe that this kind of Classic gives a chance and gives a window for guys like this to contribute positively to society and that young generation that is growing.