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March 7, 2017

John McLaren

Tokyo, Japan

Q. Tomorrow you have a game for China. How has the team prepared? What about the preparation of the team? How is your team at this moment?
JOHN McLAREN: We're excited. We've been practicing five days in Takashima, and then we went to Osaka. We trained hard. We feel like we can beat Cuba. We know they are a good ballclub, but we're ready to go. Tomorrow we'll crank it up, and we'll enjoy Tokyo this afternoon and take in the sites. I think we're ready to go.

Q. Who is the most important player to win the game tomorrow?
JOHN McLAREN: Well, we're a team. It all starts with starting pitching, throwing strikes. I think the key is you have to pitch to contact. You can't throw a bunch of pitches. You have to throw strikes, and we have emphasized that to our pitchers. And it all starts with our starting pitcher. We don't have a lot of power, so we have to manufacture runs and do little things.

Q. So who will be the starting pitcher tomorrow?
JOHN McLAREN: After the Cuba game tonight, we'll announce it. I'll tell you today who is pitching when Japan finished.

Q. You played in Osaka against Japanese teams. What do you think of the Japanese national team this year?
JOHN McLAREN: They don't have the star players they have had before, but they are a very solid, fundamentally sound club. You expect nothing else from the Japanese team.

As you know, of course, the big guy is Ohtani and Ichiro and Tanaka and Maeda and all of those guys not playing, Darvish, and Ohtani. But they are a good ballclub. I've seen them on TV, and they put the ball in play. They know how to play the game, and you know, to me they are probably the favorite in this pool.

Q. What kind of game do you want to show tomorrow, and what's your view of the game?
JOHN McLAREN: We want to catch the ball, we want to throw strikes. We want to be patient at the plate. We want to work the pitch count. We'll have to take some chances and we'll just see how it goes. Like I said, we're looking forward to playing Cuba.

Q. What have you told the players about what to expect as far as having the crowds for this tournament, especially maybe not so much against Cuba playing the Japanese, but for all the games, because it's the biggest stage some of them have played on.
JOHN McLAREN: This has been the one big challenge of our staff is to try to get our players in a good mental state. Let them know that there will be a big crowd and not let try to not let them get caught up in the moment.

I think what we've tried to talk to them about, is enjoy the moment. Enjoy the experience of the WBC, and we can only expect so much out of everybody. Everybody go out and have a good time, play the best you can to your ability, and whatever the results are, they are.

We've talked every day since the first day that this is going to be the biggest stage some of them has ever played on, and we tried to prepare them as best as we could for this moment.

Q. Maybe the starting pitcher Wang will be used as a reliever; do you have this kind of idea?
JOHN McLAREN: No, he won't start, but we can use him out of the bullpen, or take him out of the field and put him on the mound like we did yesterday.

Q. Can you talk about the players coming from the WBC and your expectations of the younger players and also the veterans on the team?
JOHN McLAREN: He's referring to the players that have come out of our Major League Baseball development program. They are younger than any of the rest of our players. They haven't been involved in any of our tournaments. A couple of them came to Arizona.

So this is going to be overwhelming for them for sure. I'm not exactly sure how we're going to use everybody. I'm sure that this is going to be a big challenge, especially for those guys, because this is the first time they have played in a big tournament, and it doesn't get any bigger than this stage.

Q. Talk about P.T.
JOHN McLAREN: He's a talented kid. He's got a nice swing. He's very inexperienced. He's just played briefly in rookie league. He's one of our finer young kids and he just needs to play some games. He hasn't played a whole lot of games. When you see him in workouts and take batting practice, he shows you some very nice tools and skills and beautiful swing.

Q. I've noticed in your practice that there are certain shifts, infield shifts, outfielders playing pretty shallow. Are those based on scouting reports? I know that you've faced Japanese pro teams, but are you making in game adjustments, or are there other scouting reports that you've looked at already going into this?
JOHN McLAREN: We have very few reports. We have some idea of the Cuban players from past tournaments. Australia, Joey Wong played against them in the Australian league, so we have an idea of some of their players.

One of the things we think about is some of our outfielders don't have extremely strong arms, so we have to take chances and move them in a little bit to give ourselves an opportunity. We try to cut runs off at the plate, playing the infield in, because we know we won't be able to score a lot of runs.

So we have to take some chances defensively, also, besides offensively.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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