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March 17, 2017

Edwin RodrI­guez

San Diego, California

Q. Tomorrow your opener, what about that game? I was talking with Jose De Leon, and he informed me that Jorge LĂłpez would be opening. Is the plan with De Leon? Is he going to be a relief pitcher?
EDWIN RODRÍGUEZ: No, that's an option. He's going to pitch tomorrow, if perhaps he would be starting the game or perhaps as a backup pitcher.

Q. Is not clear if Jorge LĂłpez or De Leon, it depends on the results of today?
EDWIN RODRÍGUEZ: Yes. We've always done that one game at a time. We need to have the game today and if we're going to use him, and tomorrow will determine what solutions or options we have for tomorrow.

Q. Last time you played the United States in the 2013 World Baseball Classic --
EDWIN RODRÍGUEZ: That was a good one (laughter).

Q. It was a really good game.

Q. Do you think, given that close performance and also the intervening Pan American Games lost by the United States, that they might have a little extra motivation to beat you tonight?
EDWIN RODRÍGUEZ: They might. But I think they're professional. They just want to beat everybody, so that could be a motivation for them. It could be. It is a motivation for us to be the best, one of the best in the world. Like we used the same motivation against Dominican and Venezuela.

But, yes, as soon as you hit the field, you want to beat everybody.

Q. If I've done my calculations correctly, if you guys win tonight, you're through to Los Angeles, how might that impact how you manage the game?
EDWIN RODRÍGUEZ: Well, tonight's game, like we've been doing throughout the tournament, I mean, we're going to really try to win tonight regardless what we have to use. We have a lot of options regarding who is pitching and who is going to be coming out from the bullpen.

So, yeah, we're going to throw everything at today's game. So regardless what it is, whatever pitcher and personnel is available for tonight, yeah, we're going to use every one of them. And the game will talk to us. We have to listen, and whatever the game says, we're going to apply, we've got up in score, low scoring score. So depending on a lot of things, yeah.

Q. I'm curious, you had a lot of yesterday off, what you may have done yesterday with the free time, if you watched the game last night, and also if you're aware of any team activities where a bunch of guys went out and spent time together?
EDWIN RODRÍGUEZ: We pretty much -- I didn't count heads yesterday, but pretty much everybody was watching the game yesterday, kind of scouting pitching and scouting hitters. The day off on Wednesday was a very well-deserved day off. Yesterday was a little bit too much. You have to take into consideration that it is Spring Training for them, so we usually don't have two days off in Spring Training.

But we made the best out of the situation. We had a good workout, we got together, and we scouted teams. So they had a good day yesterday. What they did, they played some golf. They went around. They relaxed. But then again, that first round in Mexico, starting in Arizona going all the way to Mexico, it was a very tough five days. So it was a very well-deserved break for every one of us.

Q. Tomorrow Venezuela is practically eliminated. They're going to have to actually make quite a bit of runs today. It's a do-or-die game tonight.
EDWIN RODRÍGUEZ: Well, in reality what I have established, we're professionals, and this whole notion of playing hard and not playing hard, I mean, you can't turn on the switch or turn it off. We're professionals.

Independently of the results today, tomorrow we're going to play, and we're going to win the game tomorrow, whatever they are going to create in terms of their strategy. But I'm more concerned about my own strategy, but that intensity and passion, you can't turn it on and off.

Q. Can you just describe what drove you to have Seth Lugo pitch tonight and what you might expect from him?
EDWIN RODRÍGUEZ: Well, Seth Lugo, he was our Opening Day pitcher, and we didn't play -- or we did play Tuesday. And I would have -- last Tuesday, I would have liked to use him that Tuesday, but the pitch count and the rules of the tournament didn't allow us to pitch him on Tuesday. So he's the one in line, so he's the one pitching against the United States.

I expect from him to give us five strong innings to keep us in the game. If he can give us six, it would be excellent. Then after that, the bullpen will take care of everything because we've been showing this during the tournament that we have a very strong bullpen.

So hopefully he can get us through the fifth inning, we're still in the game. Then if he can give us six, even better. Seven, excellent.

Q. How did you find out that all your players had decided to dye their hair? How hard did they try to get you to do it?
EDWIN RODRÍGUEZ: They're still trying, but, yeah, I haven't made a decision yet on that one. But as soon as we got -- before we got to Arizona for preparation and workouts, and then we had a chat with the players and coaches, and I found that out during the chat. I saw some pictures, and I went like, oh, my God. But it is what it is, but they're having a good time.

But it was a very good way to develop and create that chemistry.

Q. Can you at least promise now if you win the tournament, you'll do it?
EDWIN RODRÍGUEZ: Oh, I think before that. I have to do it. There's so much pressure from them, I have to do it.

Q. With the same line of thought with the blondies, everyone is painting their hair blonde, in the hospitals Sambucio (phonetic), with the patients and their support, and what about the reaction of Puerto Rico?
EDWIN RODRÍGUEZ: I think that's something very positive. I'm not a fanatic of it, but they're looking at it as something very positive. When there is a common cause, and there is a common conduct and it's something positive, we have to look at it as a positive thing. I'm sorry that he was actually suspended, those that tinted their hair. I think you have to be flexible at all times. And this is a historical moment in our sports history in Puerto Rico, and we have to be flexible.

Q. (Indiscernible) but four years ago we saw what you guys did, and finally this year, the Caribbean Series championship is back in Puerto Rico after 17 years. Can you talk about how big it's been to have baseball come back in such a strong way?
EDWIN RODRÍGUEZ: Yeah, that's a very good question. In 1990 MLB decided to implement the draft in Puerto Rico, and that's when everything started off. I mean, we were not -- not that the draft is good or bad, but we were not ready for that, down to the developing of the players. We still don't have baseball in our high schools, a baseball program, any baseball program in high schools.

So it took us a long time to make the adjustments. I would say in 2012 when Carlos Correa was the first selection of the draft, I think that's when everything started. It was a snowball. I mean, Carlos Correa, and then we were the runner-up in the 2013, and now we had Javier BĂĄez, Edwin Diaz, Correa, and of course Francisco Lindor.

So all the youngsters are watching that, and they're paying attention. So definitely having those youngsters, like the ones I just mentioned, having the kind of impact in Major League Baseball, that really helps to -- for them, for a good athlete, when they get to 15, 16 years old, that they have to make a decision between baseball, basketball, volleyball. Now they're seeing those guys, those youngsters having success in the Big Leagues. So hopefully it will -- like I say, it will snowball, and hopefully we'll win the 2017 tournament here, and it will get better and better.

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