USA postgame interviews March 15
Q. Reading the media today, I saw a lot of statements from U.S. players talking about a future game with the Dominican Republic. Did you guys feel like you were underestimating your rival today in Puerto Rico?
JOE TORRE: I don't think so. You know, we always obviously expect to win, but we never take winning for granted. You can ask these guys. I mean, that's ‑‑ when you're around this game for a while, you don't take anything for granted.
RYAN BRAUN: Yeah, I agree. By no means did we take them for granted or take this matchup lightly. Obviously we recognize a lot of good players on that side. I don't think we were looking beyond today by any means at all. We knew we had our hands full, and clearly we did.
Q. Joe, this is the third WBC, and the United States has gotten to the semifinals once, but they're seven and seven now. How tough is that to come into these type of tournaments and the U.S. not to do better?
JOE TORRE: Well, I've been on both sides of the short series, and that's what it is. It doesn't mean you don't have a good team.
The only thing I can say is this has been one of the most memorable experiences of my career. I mean, I'm a little emotional, but this has been much more than I ‑‑ I can't say ‑‑ I guess much more than I expected. I mean, I knew it was going to be fun, but I never realized how the feeling of commitment from every one of these guys made this a great experience for me.
As far as when you play these double elimination ‑‑ it's a crap shoot. Figueroa pitched his tail off tonight. He was great. We got a chance to break through, down 4‑0, and there's no ‑‑ as I say, there's no quit in this group. We obviously got in a position where we could have tied it or taken the lead, and you give them credit. They did their job.
This is a challenge getting through these pools and series because it's just these ‑‑ it's basically they're all one‑game series, you know.
Q. Can you take us through the pitching decisions in that inning? You had Vogelsong at 73; you could have kept him in for another batter. And then Pestano stayed in and you finally pulled him out. What was going on there?
JOE TORRE: You mean taking Vogelsong out?
Q. First taking Vogelsong out, and then staying for the four batters with Pestano as he was having trouble.
JOE TORRE: Well, I mean, first off, taking Vogelsong out, I had told you the last couple of days that even though there's a pitch limit, it didn't mean we were going to get there. You know, when you get pitchers going from 70 to 80 or 65 to 80, in that regard it's still Spring Training and they're still getting there, and we weren't going to push anybody. The only person we did it with was Dickey because obviously a knuckle ball is a little bit different than a guy who is a conventional pitcher.
And as far as Pestano, he had good stuff; he was just trying to overthrow. He went out when ‑‑ Greg went out and talked to him. He got a little smoother, and then the thing that hurt us, I know he walked in a run, but the thing that hurt us, the 0‑2 base hit with the slider.
But I told you guys, I have confidence in every single one of these guys, and we just unfortunately had a bad inning.
Q. A lot has been talked about the passion and the fire that teams like the Dominican Republic, now today Puerto Rico, have shown in these games. Do you feel that's an advantage that these teams had against your team?
JOE TORRE: No. I think the advantage was Figueroa. It wasn't the passion. There's passion on both sides, as I say. I think people exhibit the passion a little bit different. It doesn't mean they want it any less or somebody wants it more because they show it. I mean, I appreciate and I respect the passion. I never want anybody to lose that because I think to play any sport or go into anything, you've got to have a passion for it. I feel very fortunate that I've had that for this game.
But I don't think that was any kind of determination on who was going to win. I mean, they had passion the other night, too, and we beat them. It's just one of those things.
Q. Brandon, I know you have to be surprised by this. You were talking earlier how the rest of the world has gotten better. But in your wildest dreams, do you think you would not get to San Francisco?
BRANDON PHILLIPS: Well, I knew we was going to make it to San Francisco. You've got to think positive in this game. Is it a disappointment? Yes, I mean, it is. Everybody dreamed of being the winner. We want to be on top. And for us not to get there, I mean, it sucks a little bit.
But all you can do is just live ‑‑ this is a dream, a dream come true for myself just being a bat boy and then playing in this. It's a goal I can just check off on my list. If I had a chance to do this again, yes, I would. This was so much fun. I mean, it sucks losing, but somebody has got to lose. It was so much fun. I had a lot of great teammates, great people. Playing next to Joe Torre, I mean, that's an honor. I never thought I would have the opportunity to really do this, and for me to do this, I mean, it's a blessing in disguise, man.
It's tough. You come to play in the WBC, you're not really ready, you're still in Spring Training mode, but you've got to click it on so you've got to go out there and perform, try to win and represent the country. And I feel like we did good, even though we lost. It's still a disappointment, but it was one of the greatest things that ever happened to me.
RYAN BRAUN: Yeah, I mean, I think certainly for all of us, the expectation was to get to San Francisco and ultimately to win in San Francisco. But at the same time, we recognized the challenge that we were facing. We're not just facing Major League players, All‑Star caliber Major League players from the Dominican, from Puerto Rico, a lot of good players, and I don't think for any of us the expectation was anything other than to get to San Francisco. But at the same time, we recognized that it was going to be a challenge, and clearly it was.
Q. It might be a little bit too soon, but can you guys take a step back, maybe people are going to dissect the U.S.'s performance and say maybe there's something with the way this tournament is constructed, the time of year, that prevents you guys from doing better in this tournament. Guys, for instance, maybe trying to get ready for seasons and having to balance that. Do you think there's anything to that, the fact that maybe there's something beyond just being outplayed in these games that's prevented the U.S. from doing better?
JOE TORRE: I mean, we had the bases loaded and one out. You get a base hit, and all of a sudden we're ready to play this thing. That makes no sense to me. You get a base hit in a situation and all of a sudden the score is different and maybe that question isn't relevant. I don't know how to answer it based on the fact that ‑‑
Q. I'm just saying there's been three of them, it's the third WBC.
JOE TORRE: I understand that. But I guess John Elway had to win a Super Bowl for everybody to consider him a great, great player. It doesn't always happen. Ernie Banks never was at a World Series. It doesn't mean he wasn't a great player. It's just what happens in short series. It's not easy to do. And that's the one thing that I've always talked to my players about is you want to make people happy and you want to have people respect you, but to me it's more important to respect each other because you're the only ones that know how tough it is to do what you do, and it's not easy to accept defeat. But on the other side of the coin, it's basically you have to respect the guy that beats you across the way.
Q. Ryan and Brandon, I'm wondering, in your conversations with players, you go back and talk to your teammates, do you think even though you guys had a great team, even though it came down really close, that there will be more players inspired to play for this team in the future?
RYAN BRAUN: I would highly recommend the event to anybody. For me this is the second time I had the opportunity to play in the WBC; both of them were two of the top experiences I ever had as a baseball player. And I would certainly highly recommend it to everybody. I would think anybody that watched the games could see the passion, the energy, just the atmosphere, environment, for all these games is really special. I think it far surpasses anything we experience in the regular season at any point. It really is playoff type atmosphere type baseball, and I would certainly highly encourage everybody and anybody that has an opportunity to say yes because it's definitely something that's pretty special.
BRANDON PHILLIPS: I agree with him, everything he said. I'll go back and tell everybody about the experience I really had. It was an honor. It was a pleasure. And I mean, just the passion from all the teams that we played, man, it was beautiful. I didn't know how big baseball was in other countries. And when you see other countries play, it's like, wow, that's why I love playing this game. You just see how everybody's passion is totally different than our country. I can't wait to go back and just tell everybody how much fun I really had. And if they have the chance, they should really do it.
Q. Ryan, what was going on with the offense in the series? Because you scored like 90 percent of your runs from the fifth inning on. It seemed like you had a hard time getting things generated early in the game, and then you had your first RBI in the eighth inning. Stanton had his first in the seventh inning. Wright dominated for you when he was here in the lineup. Just generally is there pressure in a short series getting going, what Joe was talking about? What was going on with the offense?
RYAN BRAUN: Clearly I think it was a combination of a lot of things, but we didn't swing the bats very well collectively. We had plenty of opportunities. I think the fact that we did eventually score some runs speaks to the fact that we continued to compete. Obviously there's a tremendous amount of talent up‑and‑down the lineup, and we all felt like we were going to win the game tonight. We put ourselves in a position where we were one swing away from winning the game. Certainly we didn't swing the bats great. There's no excuses, there's no necessarily rhyme or reason for it. I think when you're not swinging the bats well collectively, everybody tries a little bit harder to pick each other up, it's human nature. I think it's a part of what we do and what we experience as baseball players. But yeah, as an offense we really didn't swing the bats very well, especially early, in most of these games.
Q. What was Figueroa doing that let him be so effective tonight?
JOE TORRE: I can't answer that question from where I was sitting.
BRANDON PHILLIPS: I could say he kept us off balance. I can say that. He was hitting his spots. You can tip your cap to him. That's the best I've seen him pitch. I've faced him plenty of times, and the way he was pitching today, he was hitting his spots and just kept everybody off balance. That's what he did.
JOE TORRE: I'm sitting next to Maddux during the game, and he basically said it's not the pitch selection, it's where it is. Even though he wasn't overpowering, you know that he had to be throwing the ball where he wanted to, and that's a big difference.
Q. I realize it's a crap shoot and nine innings isn't a long time, three games isn't a lot of games, but I do want to ask the two players: Is there a level of surprise perhaps that you have all Major League pitchers pitching for you? Not to take anything away from their pitchers, but they're five Minor League pitchers plus a free agent. Again, I understand it's a short series, but is there a level of surprise not to have gotten to them more in this game and the other games, as well?
RYAN BRAUN: I don't think surprise is necessarily the right word, maybe disappointed. Certainly we expected to score more runs than we did. We didn't swing the bats well. We had opportunities, ultimately didn't get it done. But aside from that, in baseball and a small sample size anything can happen and does happen. Obviously those guys all ‑‑ at least most of them have big league experience, Minor League experience, whatever the case may be, they were able to find a way to get the better of us.
BRANDON PHILLIPS: All you can do is just tip your cap. They did their job, we didn't. What more can I really say? I wish them the best of luck. I've just got to go back to Goodyear, which I don't want to go back to (laughter), so it sucks, man. It sucks bad. I wanted to go to San Fran so bad.
But all I can say is I enjoyed the journey, man. It was nice. I hope I can do this again and represent the USA and wear that red, white, and blue on my chest again.
JOE TORRE: I just want to say one more thing, if you don't mind. I've been with these guys almost two weeks now, and I go back to some John Wooden stuff, I mentioned it after the game, he was sometimes prouder of teams that never won because of the effort they put out, and they really reached down and did everything they could. I know everything is ‑‑ we all seem to have a rating system that winning is the only thing we accept, but I wish everybody had a chance to be in my place during these last couple of weeks to just see the commitment and the investment that these players, all of them, every single one of them, have had and made to this WBC. It's disappointing, sure, but I just couldn't have been prouder of a group of guys than this group here.