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WORLD BASEBALL CLASSIC: 1ST ROUND POOL D


March 12, 2017


Jose Berrios

Kiké Hernandez


Zapopan, Jalisco, México

Puerto Rico - 9, Italy - 4.

Q. First, the feeling of advancing to the next round, what does that mean to you guys, and also, this sets up a match with the Dominican Republic on Tuesday, so how important is that game against the team that defeated you guys in the championship game?
KIK√Č HERNANDEZ: From the beginning, from before we started practicing, once we started getting together and knew who the guys on the roster were, there wasn't a doubt that we could get past this first round because our goal is to get to the finals, get to LA and win it all. We weren't -- obviously this is WBC, so every game means the same to us. There's no small opponent to us, and we take every game as if it's the same.

We're really proud. We have a lot of pride, and what we showed is what we're going to bring to the table. We're going to bring a lot of energy, a lot of passion, and we're going to play hard from the first pitch to the last pitch of the game. What you saw here is what you can expect from us.

Q. Talk about the three victories here and the expectation in San Diego.
JOSE BERRIOS: For us it produces confidence, the way we're playing, energy, enthusiasm. In order to obtain each victory under this strategy, we have a really good young group of veterans with that hunger, that desire of getting the victory in each game, and after winning three games, we have the confidence to go to the next round, what we have been doing these three games.

KIK√Č HERNANDEZ: Like Jos√© said, I mean, we're emotional that we went from the first to the next round. Obviously we are confident and proud, and we're here to win every game, and we had no doubt we could win. But the way that the batting and the pitching reacted, we are confident going to San Diego, and it doesn't matter, no matter who comes, we're going to go play, and no matter who we're playing.

Q. Talk to me about how you adjusted after the first inning. The second hitter homered off of you, and what changed? What did you change in order to be effective the rest of the game?
JOSE BERRIOS: From the beginning of the game, the enthusiasm and desire was there 100 percent. You know that I never wavered. I regrouped, and I started three blank innings because I was confident enough in the offense and the great team that we have, and I wanted to keep competing and do my job in order to help my team win.

Q. You're having fun since you started in Arizona; everybody is talking about your hair. Talk about having a good time on the playing field.
KIK√Č HERNANDEZ: Well, yes. Like good Puerto Ricans, we like to have fun and have a good time, but it's four years that we have been waiting for this, and the last time we were a little bit short. Ever since the last Classic ended until this one started, we were excited for this one because we're hungry, and we have the desire to win and take this to Puerto Rico. This is what baseball is about, playing as a team and getting along well, because if you don't do the job -- somebody has to come and do the job. We have a healthy team, and we get along really well, all of us, and we're confident that we are -- if we don't do the job, the one coming behind us is going to do it.

I don't know if México does something, but the Dominican, they have their thing. We all dyed our hair blond, and we're the blond ones.

JOSE BERRIOS: Like he said, we have a great group, and we understood that that chemistry, that union, we had to -- in four or five days, and we looked for a way to do it. We dyed our hair to be in the same line. Everybody knows it's getting the victory and taking the gold to Puerto Rico. We are confident everybody has a role. If one fails, then the next one is ready to get it.

Q. José, looking back to the last time you played in the World Baseball Classic, how do you feel like your perspective and approach has changed?
JOSE BERRIOS: Yeah, having the opportunity to play in the WBC before in 2013, it was a big experience for me. I enjoyed it at 18 years old, had a lot of good players, but the time is good for me this year. I was happy and I was excited and everything was going fine for me that year, but this year for me everything is going better. The team is better. We have good relations and get together, so now I feel better. I got four more years of experience, so I feel great.

What I did today feels really good, so we're ready for more in the next two rounds.

Q. There was a lot of Puerto Rican support out there, especially on your side of the dugout. To see all of that, how does that kind of contrast with what you're seeing in the United States and how does it make you feel to feel the national pride and the music and everything?
KIK√Č HERNANDEZ: I mean, it feels pretty great. We had a chance to play two exhibition games in Arizona, and a lot of fans showed up. They had music, they had instruments, and it was awesome. Even the umpires were like starting to dance a little bit. You know, that's great. Once we go to the USA, I don't know if we're going to have a lot of fans there. I'm sure we will, but as much as us, the players want it, I'm sure there's going to be a lot of them there, but if there's not, we know we have an entire island behind us, and everybody is watching. Trust me, everybody is watching.

Q. According to the conditions, the first two teams of each group go to San Diego. What desire do you have against the Dominicans, and do you think it will be Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico in the finals?
JOSE BERRIOS: I don't know, this is the WBC. There is no small foe, and we are getting ready for each team 100 percent no matter who it is, but the next one is the Dominican. We are physically ready to win it because they are right now the champions, but we have a great group and the desire and the attitude, and we know we're going to play a good game against them.

KIK√Č HERNANDEZ: Well, like Jos√© said, this is the Classic. There is no small enemy, and we try in all the games the same way, no matter if it is Italy, Venezuela, M√©xico. The object is to win the game. We know that the Dominican could be the team to beat because they won it last time, and I think they won again in Miami. But we did, too, and we're playing -- I would think we can play anybody right now. We're ready for any rival that comes along, and whatever happens tonight, the team that goes with us to San Diego is going to be a great team, also. There is four teams killing each other there, and there is no small foe over there. There is no easy game. We're ready for whatever comes.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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