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March 18, 2017

Edwin RodrI­guez

Kennys Vargas

T.J. Rivera

San Diego, California

Puerto Rico - 13, Venezuela - 2

THE MODERATOR: Team Puerto Rico, now 6-0, advancing to Los Angeles.

Q. Edwin, you deserve this profound game. There was quite a bit of action in the majority of this tournament, and you did a marvelous job with the offensive. What do you think?
EDWIN RODRÍGUEZ: Well, one of the qualities of the team is that their profound commitment not only in the pitchers but in all players in position, not only with the game with Italy and the game today, those extras. They played and they obviously showed off quite a bit.

That is the beauty of our team. Not only they demonstrated their capacity not only with Italy, and obviously they demonstrated it in the game here with Venezuela.

Q. Kennys, you had the opportunity to return to the lineup. In the beginning there were some cold openings. How do you feel now?
KENNYS VARGAS: I feel super great. I'd like to thank Edwin Rodriguez to give me the opportunity to invite me to this Classic. And I wanted to focus on the game and not to allow yourself to drop because you allowed three outs. So offensively to help the team to actually give something to the team.

Q. I'd like to congratulate you not only with your players, the coaching staff. Obviously we've seen you've been so united with the Team Puerto Rico. But today with your backup players, Mike Aviles, when he batted, how do you prepare with regard to the strategy in Los Angeles with the team?
EDWIN RODRÍGUEZ: 4 of 6 games we've utilized a lineup that has been quite productive, a balance between defensive and offensive. But those players that are coming out of the bench at any moment, they have maintained themselves in perfect shape for the game. Because in the last ten games, even Kenny Vargas has played only two games.

You've seen the performance today. It's very important so that those players can be in great shape for the games. They are key in -- everyone who is here are very important, and they all have a role to play.

I don't know in a championship game. Who knows who is going to be in the 9th inning and who is coming as a newcomer. No one is here having a vacation. Everyone has a role, and everyone understands their role.

Q. That was quite a debut today for José De León. Could you talk about his performance and preparation for this game?
EDWIN RODRÍGUEZ: Yes, José De León, this is the first time that I've seen José De León pitching, just the live. I'm always following his stats, but this is the first time I've had a chance to watch him pitch.

I was very impressed with his fastball, with the command of his secondary pitches. Taking into consideration that he only had 50 pitches max, I think he ended up with 44, 45 pitches.

But I am very, very impressed with him, pitching, throwing his secondary pitches on any count for strikes. So I was very, very impressed with José De León. Eventually, I can see him pitching in the Big Leagues at some point this year, 2017.

Q. You obviously are having a great time with this victory. You are on your way to L.A. Are you ready to complete the task that didn't get completed four years ago?
EDWIN RODRÍGUEZ: Obviously, whether we win or lose in 2013, that sentiment that you described, that incomplete task. And we were in Arizona practicing, and we all had visualized we need to finish what did not get completed in 2013.

That, obviously, has been very present in that game with Mexico and here in San Diego. Obviously we're going to be going to Los Angeles. We have a practice tomorrow at 4:00 in Los Angeles, but we're focused. We're here to do what we're here to do. We're celebrating, but that's already passed. We're going to focus on Monday's game and the game on Wednesday.

Q. Congratulations for your victory. 6-0 in this Classic is the first time that Puerto Rico has done this. You had very good pitchers. How do you describe this first stage of Puerto Rico? Did you think they were going to be that strong in terms of (indiscernible)?
EDWIN RODRÍGUEZ: No, not. I thought that I was going to have a good balance, offensive and defensive. That I expected that they would dominate the way that they dominated, no. Because obviously the competition is very good, and it continues being very good. Yes, we expected a good performance, but this, in fact, this defensive/offensive performance was something I didn't expect.

T.J. RIVERA: Everybody here has been unbelievable. To be around this group of guys, the young talent with all the energy, and then the veterans that we all looked up to growing up as kids, our manager and our coaching staff, just to be around those guys, try to soak in all the things that they say and the way they go about their business, it's been unbelievable.

So far, the passion this team plays with, I've never played baseball like that before. It's pretty exciting, and I'm glad to be a part of it.

Q. Worth it?
T.J. RIVERA: Absolutely. Oh, the hair? Yeah, for sure. It's been great.

Q. Can you please tell us what is going to be -- who is going to be the pitcher?
EDWIN RODRÍGUEZ: Jorge López with the game against Holland. And after Monday, Hector Santiago, and then I'll take players from the bullpen depending on, you know, what the situation -- when the situation arises.

Q. For the group, your country or territory is the only team that has won at least four games in all four WBCs in the Western hemisphere. I just wonder what that means to you, why do you think that has occurred, ask just your thoughts on that?
EDWIN RODRÍGUEZ: Well, first, we were expecting having good games and a good tournament. We were not expecting to dominate the whole tournament the way we've been doing.

But then again, we turned the page. I mean, 6-0, but we have to go to L.A. now and play there and we have to keep winning two more games. So whatever we did already, six games, that's in the past. We have to concentrate on what is coming, the task at hand. So it is nice to have a good series in Mexico and San Diego, but we've turned the page already. So we're ready for L.A.

T.J. RIVERA: I think it speaks for the character of this team how they just come at you every inning like it's the last, every pitch is the most important pitch of the game. It's unbelievable the way everybody's so focused in and trying to pick each other up. What we've been able to do is unbelievable. But, like Edwin said, it means nothing. Now we've got to get to work.

Q. What did Holland find in Japan in the semifinals?
EDWIN RODRÍGUEZ: We have very little information from Japan and Holland. Not only offensive, defensive as well. But in reality, the competition that we have had in Mexico, and the competition we've had here in San Diego has prepared us for what we're expecting in Los Angeles. Whether it's Venezuela, Dominican, the United States, even in Mexico, we are now prepared for whatever type of competition that presents itself in Los Angeles.

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