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March 15, 2017
San Diego, California
Q. I would like to know if there is a group that is different in talent despite the four nations who are playing in this pool? I would like to know your thoughts about this pool.
JIM LEYLAND: Well, obviously, this is a great pool, I mean, everybody in this pool. When you advance, you're going to face somebody really good. You're going to face somebody really good to advance. So, you know, Dominican, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, United States, four outstanding teams, so this should be really, really a good round, the second round.
We're obviously looking forward to it, as I'm sure the other teams are.
Q. I'd like to know, Venezuela hasn't had the best performance this year in this World Baseball Classic. But what are your thoughts about tonight, Felix Hernandez, especially Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez, two guys that you've been managing? What are your thoughts about them?
JIM LEYLAND: Well, they've got an unbelievable lineup. We're going to face one of the best pitchers in all of baseball tonight, so it's not going to be an easy task. I hope that we're up to it. I think we will be. You know, it's been an honor to manage Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez. They have Perez, Hernan Perez also played for me, so I know a lot of these guys and have managed them in the past. Have the utmost respect for them.
I saw Magglio Ordonez today is here, Carlos Guillen is the general manager, they both played with me on the championship team in 2006. So it's fun. It's fun to see them. Miguel Cabrera's dad and I are very good friends. So I'm at the hotel today, had coffee with him. Fun. It will be a very competitive game.
Q. Drew's a former pitcher of yours, but what did you tell him about going down and facing this lineup and just how good it is? Especially given your familiarity with some of the players.
JIM LEYLAND: Talking about Smyly?
JIM LEYLAND: Well, you know, everybody here is very good, obviously. Hopefully he'll be up to the challenge. It's a good lineup, but everybody has good lineups in this thing. We have a good lineup, Puerto Rico has a good lineup. These are some of the best players in the world.
So, you know, good pitching normally gets out good hitting, and hopefully Drew's on tonight because it's going to be a tough chore for him. Hopefully it's going to be a tough chore for Felix.
THE MODERATOR: Jim has been joined to his left by Marcus Stroman and to his right by San Diego native Adam Jones.
Q. I have a question on the construction of the lineup. Obviously you have so many stars and everybody wants to play, and you have executives back in Florida and Arizona who need their guys to get innings and get at-bats. How do you balance all of that and still try to win the tournament?
JIM LEYLAND: You sound like you've been reading my notebook. It's pretty tough. You know, everybody doesn't get the same fair shake. It's unfortunate. You try to do the best you can. I'm playing Bregman tonight, you know, I'm going to play Josh Harrison Friday night.
So I'm trying to do the best I can with it, but obviously some people get cheated out of at-bats. You understand that. Hopefully they'll understand that when they come here, you have so many great players you just can't play them all all the time. It's impossible. Believe me, this is a -- and I'm not complaining, because this is a true honor for me and I'm absolutely thrilled to death to be managing this team. But it's tough on manager, because you see guys a little down. When you manage a long time, you smell things pretty good. You can see the face once in a while, somebody disappointed they didn't get to play or didn't get an at-bat.
I feel for that, I do. Trust me. I've been laying awake at night trying to find a way to piece this guy in, trying to do the best I can. Some in the organization are concerned about at-bats. I totally understand that. But at the end of the day you have to be a little callous, because if you don't, you'll drive yourself crazy. At the end of the day I want to walk away from this thing knowing I did the best job I could trying to get everybody in as much as I could. But there are so many great players.
What's different about this, to be honest with you, it's a lot harder to manage this because just what you're talking about. When you have your regular team, you have your star players that play pretty much every day, and you have what you call utility players. Well, everybody on this team is a star. So you've got your stars sitting on the bench. That normally doesn't happen during the regular season, during a regular Major League season. So this is a little bit different.
Q. Adam, with all your connections here in San Diego, what are maybe the causes outside the ballpark that you're most involved in this week, whether it's Boys & Girls Club or other things you're involved in with here?
ADAM JONES: Really nothing. It's good to be back here in San Diego. I haven't been back here in March since '03, the year I graduated high school. So it's kind of eerie being back here at this time. But I just saw my trainer, spoke with my family and let them know this is what we're here for. Everybody understands why I'm here. It's not really to party and hang out. I'm here to win games with these boys on Team USA. After that, I think they kind of have a great idea what's going on and what my schedule is.
Q. Marcus, after making the first WBC start and now one coming up, do you think after experiencing this you'll be even better prepared to start the season than you would being in Dunedin all spring?
MARCUS STROMAN: I think so. It's unbelievable lineups I'm getting to face, Dominican, I'll be throwing against Puerto Rico on Friday. Just one through nine, just like Jim was talking about, they're all-stars from one through nine. So you definitely have to be on top of your game to get these guys out. So I think it's definitely a great experience, and definitely prepared me more heading into the season.
Q. When you come in here saying Interleague play and your friends, family, everybody here wants to come and they know what it's all about. When you're here now, do you have to explain to them what this tournament is all about? Trying to say, okay, sounds cool, but what really is it?
ADAM JONES: That is a great statement. My wife was saying the same thing. We were out at lunch yesterday and overheard some people talking. It's crazy, the WBC here in the United States, I don't know what it is, it's just that people don't know really what's going on unless you watch MLB Network. It's not promoted on SportsCenter or any other of the various sports channels. It's just on MLB Network. So if you're not watching MLB Network, you have no idea.
But you look around the Latin countries and they know exactly what's going on. Their awareness is at an all-time high right now. It seems like with the U.S. and the American people, it's not as -- I mean, generally they think of Spring Training right now and not a massive tournament going on. But, hey, it's a tournament going on, so hopefully people will tune in.
Q. Marcus or Adam, Jim talked yesterday about how WBC may be played a little more intensely than in Spring Training. Do either of you have concerns about possible injuries or any of your teammates that chose not to play have any concerns about that?
ADAM JONES: Well, you can get hurt in your Spring Training game just as easily as you can get hurt here. So I throw that out the window because you see Ian Desmond, unfortunately, broke his hand. That's Spring Training. We're here playing, and we're, knock on wood, staying healthy.
Injuries happen. It doesn't matter where you're at. You could fall down the stairs. Injuries happen. You can't avoid an injury. That is the thing that people try to say that they can avoid. You can't avoid an injury. If it's going to happen, it's going to happen.
Q. One of the intriguing things about this tournament for me is you will see teams with players who are not Big Leaguers, maybe not Big Leaguers yet or never were Big Leaguers, but were always sort of peripheral guys, pros, but peripheral guys, yet the game will be so close. I'm curious what is it about baseball that will allow over a short period of time, quote/unquote, maybe lesser players to stay with the greatest players on earth?
JIM LEYLAND: Well, there's no question about that. Like I said, this is a whole different venue than anything else. I think one thing that some of the other countries -- and, once again, this is not a complaint because it's just a fact -- they know Marcus Stroman and Adam Jones. So they know. They probably have some reports and stuff.
We play against them guys that we've never seen before. We've tried to dig up as much information as we can so we're as prepared as we can be. But everybody knows the players that are playing in the States. So it possibly gives them a little edge. But, once again, we dig up as much information as we can to be as prepared as we can for our players.
But I also think in something like this, you can't overcomplicate it too. I think you can get carried away with too much information. I think not enough is bad, but too much is bad as well. It's kind of like coaching. Too much coaching is not good. So I think we have the players we have. I have all the confidence in the world in them. They're outstanding players. They're very talented. I'll certainly take my chances.
Q. Marcus, now facing Puerto Rico, and obviously you've faced those guys in the past, I'm sure, a number of them, and you've had a chance to play with them as well, which players on that team do you maybe admire the most or enjoy competing against the most based on your experience previously? And with the pitch limit, you basically hit your limit in Game 1. Do you think that where you're at physically you'll be able to do the same now that the increase has happened?
MARCUS STROMAN: As far as pitch number, yeah, I'm ready to go. I've prepared all leading up to this in the off-season. So I'm ready to go out there and throw to whatever my pitch limit is. It's 80 this round. So I'm ready to go 80 pitches, however far that takes me.
As far as playing against Team Puerto Rico, they have an unbelievable lineup. I'm pretty close with some of those guys, Lindor, Correa.
I'm excited about this moment. I love how the atmosphere at these games have been. And I can't wait to face an all-star lineup, so I can't wait.
Q. How many friends and family are you expecting in attendance tonight and then through the week?
ADAM JONES: Well, we got an allotment of four tickets. I did something smart, and my mom always tells me to do, put it on Facebook. Copy and pasted the link, everything, told people: This is where you get your tickets. Put your credit card down. This is where it's at. It's cut and dry. It's not the season. It's a completely different format.
And I said: Look, if you want to come out and support me, this is the way to come out and support me. When you support somebody, that means you go out of your way and spend your own money to support. That's how you support someone.
Q. Marcus, obviously you could have played for Puerto Rico or Team USA. How difficult was that decision to make, and have any of the guys on Team Puerto Rico kind of given you a hard time or ribbed you a little bit?
MARCUS STROMAN: I got ribbed for a little bit on Twitter here for a while. But at the end of the day, I'm American. I'm going to play for my country. I played for the 2011 collegiate national team, so it just felt right playing for USA.
So I think I made the right decision. My mom was happy with the decision I made, so that's kind of the process I went into.
Q. I'd like to know, you mentioned the difference between the United States and Latin countries about the popularity of this tournament. Why do you think that happens, that difference between the fans?
ADAM JONES: Well, first and foremost, it's promotional. As Americans, we have the option -- right now it's Spring Training. I think everybody's mental is in Spring Training. March Madness right now, everybody's filling out their brackets, worrying about who is going to win this tournament. Again, it goes into just the Spring Training mindset.
The Latin countries, they've been preparing for this mentally for years, obviously, since the last one in 2013. Now it goes to 2017. I've been over in Venezuela and played. The pride that they have in Latin American countries, I haven't been to Dominican and I practiced or Puerto Rico, but I've played against the players plenty in my career, and you just see the passion they have for this game. Here in the States, it's just a different fashion. I'm not saying it's less or more. It's just we have different things to do.
Right now it's a mental of American fans, the mentality right now is March Madness and Spring Training baseball, so baseball has kind of taken the back burner to what's going on right now. But the ones that come out and support, the ones that are watching, we are grateful. We appreciate the living hell out of you guys, and hopefully as this round continues and we continue to go on in this tournament, we get more and more American fans.
Q. Jim, you mentioned Alex Bregman's getting the start tonight. Here's a guy that was in Double-A last July, was a Futures gamer, not a lot of Big League time. What has he shown you to convince you he's ready to come out on this big stage and surrounded by a lot more veteran players?
JIM LEYLAND: Well, he made a couple outstanding plays in exhibition games. But I think this is just a matter of he deserves to start. He's a very talented guy, and probably not as well known yet as some of the other players we have because he's a very young player, but this kid's a player. This kid's going to be an outstanding player. I think he probably knew coming in that he wasn't going to start over Crawford. But I need to get this guy a game. There's no question about that. I've got Josh Harrison playing. He deserves to play. This guy's a good player. So I feel very confident with him.
And I want to say this: Every player on our team that I talked to, when I was going to play somebody else -- and I always try to inform the player before it leaks out to the media if I have something. I called Josh, actually, to tell him he was playing. Everybody's been so cooperative, it's unbelievable. It's more of a concern -- they all want to play. Don't get me wrong. But I think the concern comes more from the organizations. We've gotten calls from pitching coaches at midnight. We've gotten calls from organizations, you know.
But, you know what? I feel that I can play anybody on this team and have a chance to win. That's the way I feel about it. If we didn't feel that way, then we shouldn't have brought them. And I have total confidence on every player on this roster. I know there's only nine out there each night, but I have confidence in every one of these players. So I feel very comfortable with it.
But, like I said, once again, I'm not complaining, this is a tough venue for managers. You're trying to please a lot of people. You're trying to win. Trying to keep everybody healthy, trying to keep everybody happy. It's a tough job, and I'm glad I'm the one that got it.
Q. Talked with Buster yesterday, he said while the Latin players may show their competitive fire more on the field that the American players still have it inside, you just don't see it, but they have just as much. Do you agree with that? Also, does the WBC help prepare you for the regular season as much or more than Spring Training?
JIM LEYLAND: Well, I think, first of all, you've got to remember these are a lot of different countries, and everybody shows their excitement and their passion in a different way. I have no problem with that. I can assure you that the fire in the United States team is just as much as everybody else's, but the custom of those other countries and that, they exhibit their emotions a little bit different. I have no problem with that. I respect that. That's them.
Our team doesn't jump around on the field quite as much and everything. I don't really care what the other team does. I don't care what the other manager does. I care about my players, how we perform, how we play the game.
And they have a passion for it. There's no question. But don't ever think that the United States doesn't have a passion for it just because we don't have as many fans here and we're not quite as loud, maybe, as some of the other countries. I have no problem with what anybody does. I don't worry about the other guy. I worry about my team.
ADAM JONES: And on top of that, it's the truth. You've managed all walks of life in this game, and you've seen some of the biggest stars, American, Venezuelan, Dominican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, everyone exhibits their emotions in a different way. We are very, very emotional, very passionate. We just exude it in a little different way.
I love it when you see the Dominican and Venezuelan teams, Puerto Rican teams jump all over. I love when you show a passion for something that you really enjoy doing. That shows that you care.
Our style, we're not as flamboyant as that, but we can get that way if you really want us to. We can get that way. But it's just not our style. We get up when we need to get up. We're always cheering each other on, rooting for the next guy to get the job done.
We just show our emotions in a tad bit different way. But it's no disrespect to any other country and how they show it, because at the end of the day you're playing a game, and you should play the game with passion.
Q. Knowing the flamboyance some of these other countries show, do you have to go into it knowing that they might do something that if you're in the regular season with other Major League teams, you may not accept that, but you accept it with them?
ADAM JONES: Well, you have to take it with a grain of salt. You know, the back flips that you see in the WBC, that's not going to happen during the season. Unless it's certain people, Miggy, Beltre, Cruz, the big dogs, they can do that kind of stuff because they've earned that right. But some of the stuff I've seen, it's probably not going to happen in the regular season.
But, hey, this is the tournament for it to happen. If you're going to do it, do it now and do it in winter ball. But I think the younger guys who have exemplified a little more perro caliente, a little more of that, they know during the regular season, they have to respect the Major League pitcher on the mound a little bit more.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports