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March 14, 2017

Edwin RodrI­guez

San Diego, California

Puerto Rico - 3, Dominican Republic - 1

Q. Congratulations on a sensational win. This is exactly the performance that we've seen all week in Jalisco. This is exactly how these boys have played except I think they turned it up a notch tonight. How do you feel about that?
EDWIN RODRÍGUEZ: Well, you described that perfectly. We've been playing well, very well. We played very well in Mexico. The pitching was there in Mexico even when the ball was carrying out in Mexico.

Then facing a team like Dominican, I think you got it right. I mean, the motivation was there. We were waiting for this for four years, and they were at their best. I mean, offensively, defensively, and on the mound.

Q. Can you tell me what the reaction was to winning against the Dominican Republic after 2006?
EDWIN RODRÍGUEZ: Well, to win a team like Dominican Republic in 2006 and 2013, and with their additions and the talent that they had, we knew we were confronting a team that were one of the best in the world. It is certainly a cause for celebration.

We have lots of energy and youth. They were perhaps as rookies and they were waiting for this moment. So it came up, and this was a motive to celebrate.

Regarding Molina, well, he's Molina. He manages his pitch and the pitching team as a whole. It was when Orlando Román was going to pitch, we were very concerned because we also knew that we could have gone to the third inning in this game. But Yadier Molina, he is dominant in this. He had a lot to do with this victory.

Q. To ask you how you dealt with the pitcher, Orlando Román? Can we ask you, was this the strategy from the very beginning that there was a relief pitcher, or was that the strategy that you had from the very beginning that Román, perhaps, would be available for a game perhaps with the game in Venezuela against the U.S.?
EDWIN RODRÍGUEZ: When we prepared Orlando Román for a game, tie-breaking game in Mexico, and the first game in the second round, that's how it actually took place. Today we were hoping that we would go into the third round, and this is how it turned out. And Hector Santiago was available, and our goal was to have him pitch two innings. Everything just fell in place, and everyone did their job.

Q. I understand that tonight pitcher De León -- can you please explain if this was the strategy for Santiago that you are now responding for this second round?
EDWIN RODRÍGUEZ: Oh, no, this strategy for tonight was always there independently whether José De León was going to actually join the team. We were not sure about in what condition were they going to give us José De León. If those conditions were available, it would be very difficult to substitute him for this round, because he wasn't going to be very helpful.

And obviously the conditions were apt for this second round. Perhaps for a Saturday game. That's why we made this substitution. That's why it took so long, because it took a long time to actually have this conversation with the organization and to find out how he was in condition to play.

Q. I'd like to ask you, Eddie Rosario, who won the game and he did a double play, and at that point we thought it was our game and the Dominican Republic just -- tell me what happened here?
EDWIN RODRÍGUEZ: No, no. You highlighted that particular game of the Eddie Rosario -- that particular play. That actual transferred the enthusiasm to Puerto Rico. That really upped the ante, and it really helped us with that particular play.

When that play was completed in zero, that provided the energy throughout the game. This clubhouse with that particular play, and the home plate in the first inning, that was the game.

Q. Nelson Cruz, curious, if you thought there was no way to know, or if you were daring him to go?
EDWIN RODRÍGUEZ: I think we were trying to keep him close anyway, but we were trying to cover a little bit more ground at first base. I was surprised that he took off, he took off at first when you have Yadier Molina behind the plate and played him behind for two runs. But it was not a special strategy or anything. We were playing simple, basic baseball. We were trying to cover a little bit more ground at first base.

Q. You touched on this a little bit earlier, but Yadier Molina offensively, defensively did so much. How much of it is as he goes, the team goes, and he really carries this team?
EDWIN RODRÍGUEZ: Oh, definitely for years it has been like that. As Yadier Molina goes, the team goes. I would like to extend that to the regular Big League season. As Yadier Molina goes, the team goes because he brings so much not only defensively, but he also brings offensively. The way he handles the pitching, well, we saw tonight. We've been watching that for years in the Big Leagues and with Team Puerto Rico. But definitely he's the heart of the team.

Q. Following up on that, is it ever a hard sell to get Yadi to come to these events?
EDWIN RODRÍGUEZ: Oh, no. He's been asking us for years. I mean, he thought WBC was in 2016. He was sending me in 2015, he was sending me lineups and everything. So I had to tell him, Yadi, there's two more years to go. But, I mean, he's on this. His heart is here on this Puerto Rican team, along with Carlos Beltran. Those two guys are the ones leading those youngsters. Like they were saying the first day that we worked out in Arizona, they've been trying to make this turn to the youngsters the best way. They're trying to teach them to take care from here on.

Q. What is the status of Jose Rijo and Joseph Colon? Is he being substituted?
EDWIN RODRÍGUEZ: Well, Joseph Colon, we had to substitute two pitchers, and one of them was Joseph Colon and Miguel Mejia, and we identified Joseph Colon from the very beginning. His participation was very limited from the organization, but it was not a decision based on talent, but based on a condition that we were being presented by the Cleveland Indians.

But, no, we didn't have any plan. Now that he's in great condition and with the organization, and he really has been in agreement. He's been a little bit more aggressive, and he's not going anywhere.

Q. What about Rijo? What is his status?
EDWIN RODRÍGUEZ: He's in great shape. Rijo is perhaps ready to do pitching in a tiebreaker game perhaps on Sunday.

Q. How can you maintain concentration, the focus of your players after the first round and when they win against the Dominican Republic?
EDWIN RODRÍGUEZ: Obviously, we still have a long game to go, obviously one week. From the very beginning, we were practicing in Arizona, and that's when we started in 2013. Independently we need to concentrate on the game that particular day and not per pitch, perhaps, not per day, and we've been developing that since 2013. They've been doing it since Arizona.

When they have Yadier Molina and Carlos Beltran, when they're consistent in their messaging, and the rest of the team captures that message when we have one pitch at a time, they can concentrate, and they don't have to celebrate with a victory, because it could actually become a loss.

Q. They're out there celebrating. What did you think of the support you got? And the second part, wanted to ask you, a lot of emotion in this ballgame. Do you have to be guarded on too much emotion, your team getting too high or is it just it's the tournament and let the boys go?
EDWIN RODRÍGUEZ: Yeah, you said it right. First, about the fans, I mean, that's what the WBC is all about. There was a lot of Dominican Republic fans and there were Puerto Rican fans, and that's what it's all about. I heard down in Miami there were close to 30,000 Dominicans watching their team playing.

So this is what it's all about. And they know. Every team knows that. There's a lot of emotion here, and you just let them play. I mean, we let the other team celebrate the way they want to celebrate because this is what it's all about. They're playing for their country. You've got the chance to do this for every four years. The same thing with us. I mean, the other teams like Dominican, they know. They're not trying to embarrass anybody. They're just having fun.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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