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March 6, 2017

Hensley Meulens

Seoul, Korea

Q. For tomorrow, can you please reveal your starting pitcher?

Q. Can you explain why you chose Rick VandenHurk to be the starter?
HENSLEY MEULENS: He's our best pitcher.

Q. Have you received any scouting report on the Korean team, kind of like the one you had in 2013 from Ryan Sadowski, maybe you had any report from him or anyone this time around?
HENSLEY MEULENS: No, we have scouts that's been following them the last week or so. So that's what we go on. It's a different team. It's four years later. So we rely on our own scouts to get this thing done. But I watch a lot of games, too, so it's plenty good.

Q. It seems like team chemistry is very important to you and you've done a lot to try to build chemistry with your team. Can you talk about why you do that and how you've done that?
HENSLEY MEULENS: Well, why I do that is because guys are from different places; they don't play with each other all year. You know, the tournament is very short if you look at it, in a way, it's four years ago that these guys have been together and it's been four years that they haven't played with each other. That's very important for guys to feel like they want to be around each other, and also pull for each other.
You know, how I get it done is just ask them to be a family; ask them to bond together; ask them to go watch movies together; ask them to go watch videos together. You know, the most important thing is ask them to play as a team and not as an individual, because a lot of times, you get to play as an individual, and you forget about the team concept. I'm all about the team concept and that's what I am and what I oblige guys to do.

Q. Can you explain about the infrastructure and the enthusiasm for baseball in the Netherlands?
HENSLEY MEULENS: Well, we've come a long ways the last 15, 20 years with our game. Before that, professional players were not allowed to participate in any amateur tournaments. I believe in'97, that was erased, or lifted. And now since '98, I believe, professional players can play baseball in tournaments for the Netherlands. And that's been a huge difference.
You know, Robert Eenhoorn, no longer with the team, has done a lot of things, creating academies all over the Netherlands. I believe there's six of them now. Just to teach guys to play baseball. You've got to remember, it's a big soccer country. Everybody, every kid wants to play football or soccer.
It's changing. It's changing. Guys see the success the team is having over the last decade or so, so they want to be part of it. You know, if you trickle down into the islands, we did a lot of clinics. We do a lot of seminars for our coaches just to get them to broaden their minds and learn more to teach kids. The talent is there, but if you don't have people refining that talent, you're only scratching the surface of it.
That's why I think you see better players, major league players, guys getting to the major league level and having a lot of success.

Q. I'd like to know, what about the enthusiasm on the islands in Curacao and Aruba?
HENSLEY MEULENS: That's all we know right now. Everybody can't wait for the game tomorrow. It's going to be at 3:30 in the morning over there, so people are putting their alarms on to wake up and watch the game. There's a lot of enthusiasm. There is a lot of guys from these two places playing in the game tomorrow, and on the team, period.
So it's a baseball‑minded community, and people are excited that this is coming around again, and they can't wait for the game to start tomorrow.

Q. In Pool A, Netherlands is a strong team. Can you reveal any concerns you have?
HENSLEY MEULENS: I have no concerns. I think the guys have prepared very well. You know, we've been preparing since last year. We went to Tokyo for two exhibition games, and then from the beginning of December, we had three camps going on: One in the Netherlands; one in Curacao, ran by myself and Ben Thijssen; one in Aruba by Eugene Kingsdale. We had a two‑week camp in Scottsdale where guys prepared and guys that weren't there were in big league camps in Japan.
They are ready to play. They are ready to play. I think the one thing, though, that you are always worried about baseball, it's a funny game. You can have the best team on paper, but if the guys don't perform well, then it doesn't matter. So that's the only concern really that you have; that the players are great players on paper, doesn't perform up to their status or capabilities. I think every manager can feel that way at times.
But you know, I have faith that they are going to come out and play the way they can tomorrow.

Q. Wanted to ask you, what is it like to be back in Korea as a manager? You played here briefly in the KBO, and maybe didn't have fond memories, but what is it like to be back in Korea as a manager?
HENSLEY MEULENS: Any time you have an opportunity to represent your country and play in a big tournament like this, it's the biggest tournament we play in, every four years, that we can use our major league players, it's great, anywhere we can be.
Last time we were in Taiwan, and it was awesome to have all the guys together, and this time in Korea. The attention has been great and the hotel has been great.
Now we'll just have to give the Korean fans a taste of what the Dutch baseball is like. But everything has been really good so far since we got here on the 28th.

Q. In the 2013 tournament, Netherlands achieved a miraculous performance, so can you reveal what is your commitment, or do you feel any burden or special impression?
HENSLEY MEULENS: I think we're very sure of ourselves. We have a lot of guys that have had a lot of success the last couple years playing the major leagues.
If I can take it back to 2013, Xander Bogaerts was 19 years old, never played third base before. I called his manager, John Farrell, to ask if he could play third base, and he said, yeah, go ahead, but don't put him in the outfield. Then he ends up playing in the World Series that year, third base.
And he said to USA Today, his experience in the Classic is what prepared him for that big stage in the World Series, to play third base. We have a lot of confident guys in that locker room, and when push comes to shove, game time, I think the expectation is that they are going to play the way they are able to play and capable of playing.
Our goal is to win the championship. That's why we play the tournament. We want to win the championship and these guys are focused on that.

Q. In 2013, you met the Korean team, and now you meet again. I think you know the Korean team better, so how did you prepare, and is there any change in your feeling or preparation?
HENSLEY MEULENS: Very good question. I think we weren't sure how we were going to play against them in 2013. We ended up playing a really nice game, a very well‑pitched game by Diego Markwell. We won that game 5‑0, I believe.
But it's four years later. You can't live on those victories from so long ago. You know, they have a really, really good team in my opinion. We have to bring our AGame to beat them tomorrow. If you don't pitch well, we don't run the bases, we don't get timely hitting, we don't catch the ball, we're not going to beat them.
So we know that. We've prepared very well. We scouted them the last several weeks, and you know, we're going to put the game plan together when we get back to the hotel right now to attack them tomorrow, and hopefully it will work out again.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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