Tony Pena pregame interview March 10
Q: The Venezuelan team and the Puerto Rico manager were commenting about the problems that you guys have that you have the majority of your players in the Big Leagues to train before the tournament. What do you think could be done as to the organization for the selections to have more time with their players to train better, and if in a sense it is a disadvantage that you guys have versus teams like Asia or the Cubans who have their players practically the whole year available to train.
TONY PEÑA: Yes, I have talked in depth about that, and I believe that the thing is that it's a matter of the players, and at the same time Major League Baseball is the one that has to give the approval so the players can stay fit and have training camp before the training starts.
Q: How much time do you think would be healthy or ideal for you to have as manager with your players to train as a team?
TONY PEÑA: Well, look, Spring Training lasts a month and a half. I believe that when the players can spend 15 days working together before getting to the training camp, and in the training camp with two more weeks, we're talking about a month, all the players are at 75, 80 percent of their physical conditioning.
Q: The Dominican Republic qualified for the second round. The situation of the pitchers for the first stage, first three pitchers, the starting pitchers, who are the ones that the Dominican team is going to use, seeing that two unknown teams are going to come in, Italy and Canada that is beating the U.S. right now?
TONY PEÑA: Well, I would like to give you those names. We have three starting pitchers that we cannot make changes within the roster unless a player is injured, so in the next few days after today we'll sit down and we'll see where we're going. Definitely the first game Volquez is going to pitch the first game, I can assure that.
Q: The lineup that we may project for Tuesday, could we know it?
TONY PEÑA: We're playing the same lineup. The thing that varies is sometimes Miguel Tejada I may insert him at third base and things like that. But yesterday we played Tejada and today Erick Aybar is playing shortstop and Reyes is at DH. The idea of keeping the guys moving around. I have not had a chance of playing a few guys like Moises Sierra or Leury Garcia, and I have to find a way to get them in. Maybe today, the way things happen, I'll let them play because they are here supporting us, and they didn't come here to just fool around.
Q: There are comments that maybe Adrian Beltre may come into the second round in Miami. Is there any truth in that? TONY PEÑA: Well, look, simply I have heard rumors and I have not sat down and talked about that. I told you already that the case is a very difficult case where a player has to come out, unless a player is injured.
Q: I would like to know, do you think you'll be overconfident moving forward?
TONY PEÑA: No, we are not going to be overconfident thing. Yesterday we played against a Spain team, and you can see the way that those guys were playing. I mean, it is something that in such a few days we have been able to put together a team that is only thinking about one thing. We are thinking every day and taking it game by game and trying to win as many games as we can.
Q: Tony, two things: Venezuela was one of the big favorites with you guys. Were you surprised that Puerto Rico beat them yesterday? And mostly, how do you maintain today the intensity knowing that those teams are qualified for the second round starting next Tuesday?
TONY PEÑA: First of all, it was a great surprise, and that's why we always say that baseball is a box of surprises, because at no time at all could I think that the Venezuelan team would be eliminated as they are right now. But the Puerto Rico team is also a great team. It's not that it's a weak team, it's a great team, and when we came here we knew who we were facing. That intensity will remain. One of the things that those guys know and the importance that they have, we qualified, but yes, those guys are professionals, and today we are thinking about playing all the kids. We came here to play. I mean, they set up the lineup.
Q: Focusing on what the Classic allows in the second round, the increase in pitching mainly for the starters. Edison Volquez didn't have a lot of pitches because of the rain.
TONY PEÑA: Well, that's the thing that as I've said before, we are not here to injure any of the kids. That's what happened when I took Volquez out. I mean, we are going to take that into account, and maybe we will allow Volquez to pitch 65 pitches on Tuesday.
Q: In the Big Leagues there is time to improve a team and to be able to practice with them. In the Caribbean League, also, but for the Classic there are very few days that a manager has to try to fine tune those players. Do you think that more time is needed for the teams to be together before starting the Classic?
TONY PEÑA: Well, I was asked that question already, but yes, I said what I had to say. I think it's about time that Major League Baseball tried to add more time for the offseason.