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March 19, 2017

Hensley Meulens

Xander Bogaerts

Andrelton Simmons

Didi Gregorius

Los Angeles, California

THE MODERATOR: We welcome the Kingdom of the Netherlands. To my left we have Didi Gregorius, manager Hensley Meulens, Andrelton Simmons, and Xander Bogaerts. So Kingdom of the Netherlands, congratulations on reaching Los Angeles. We'll take our first question.

Q. Hensley, you guys are in the semifinals in the last WBC. So what from that experience do you think you're bringing into this year's semifinals?
HENSLEY MEULENS: Well, you said the word, "experience." You know, I think these guys are four years older, more experience, a lot of success in their Major League careers the last few years. And that's a lot to be said about that.

Also, we ran into a very hot Dominican team last time. We're going to run into hot Puerto Rican team this Classic. They were both undefeated when we played them. We know now these guys are ready for the challenge. We have our pitching together. You know, we're ready to go.

Q. This tournament is made up of many cultures and languages, and your team kind of epitomizes that. Has that in any way helped you guys, and are people looking at you guys as the face of this tournament?
HENSLEY MEULENS: Well, our guys have grown up together, a lot of them. Some age groups are different, but, still, guys grow up together. We work out together in the off-season, a lot of us, different languages are spoken at different times. We've got the Dutch guys, we've got the guys from the islands speaking Papiamento, and I use English in the meetings. I run them all in English.

So, obviously, it's a country that is formed from a lot of different communities and different islands from the main land, and of course that helps us a lot.

Q. Hensley, what does it mean for you, you've won three world championships with the Giants. What would it mean for you to win a championship for your country? And my second question, bringing in Kenley Jansen, who, I believe the first time he played in the World Baseball Classic was a catcher, now he's going to be your closer. Does that give you a bigger shot of adrenaline to have someone that good here?
HENSLEY MEULENS: Well, winning a World Series, that's the reason why you play Major League Baseball. For me, I obtained him as a coach, but it's the same thing. You're very proud when that happens. It's very emotional. Definitely the first one's very emotional for a lot of us, but winning for the motherland is a different level. That's above that, I believe.

I played in the Olympics in 2000, and I got to coach in 2004, and the level of anxiety, the level of emotions, they go a little higher than winning the World Series. So that would be at the top of the list if we can pull this off. And Kenley, he made the game shorter for us. He's one of the best closers in the game. He wasn't ready at the beginning of the tournament, but he's getting closer to the season now and he's ready to go. We couldn't be happier to have him with us.

Q. For the three players, what does it mean to be here representing your country, getting this far? For a couple of you this might be your first one and some of the others have had other experiences here?
XANDER BOGAERTS: I mean, for me, it's nice. The last time I played, I was so young. I was so nervous throughout this tournament I haven't been that nervous compared to the previous time I was here. So it's been fun. I've known these guys for a long time, and just being on the same team for this time is definitely pretty exciting.

ANDRELTON SIMMONS: For me, it's really fun, man, to play with guys you know since you were a kid and you get to compete with each other against big nations, and making it this far makes it pretty special. If we can finish at the top, it would be even better.

DIDI GREGORIUS: I'll say, like they were saying, we've played with each other since we were like -- me and Simmons played since we were like six. I played with Bogy when he was 14, I was two years older than him. We played with most of these guys when we were young. Everybody played with each other when we were growing up.

Now we get to represent our country and going to Tokyo and all those places, it's just to see how far we've come in life and baseball and everything, I think it's really awesome just to represent and playing with the same guys. So I think that means a lot for me and I think for everybody else too. So it's just something amazing. Trying to put all the kingdom on the map, so you see there's players everywhere.

Q. Wanted to ask all you guys, but starting with you, Didi. You have a lot of shortstop talent and you guys have dropped all your egos and said I'll play wherever I need to play. How important has that been to form team unity?
DIDI GREGORIUS: It's just awesome, because like you said, we all play on our teams, whether we played at shortstop. But Simmons played shortstop for team Netherlands, which is awesome. He's been there, always played there. It's awesome. Everybody knows what he can do. So that's all respect for us and for him. So we picked our spots, and then if we have to play short, then we play short. Otherwise play out of position.

I mean, it's a chemistry. We're not playing against each other. We're on the same team. Everybody's together. So as long as we're doing that, everybody's happy, everybody's playing together. It's not that we're not playing, because we're still getting playing time, so I think it's good.

ANDRELTON SIMMONS: Well, you can pick either guy, like any of the guys that play infield, you can put them at short and they'll do the job. Hensley put me there for most of the games, and I'm happy with that. But, I mean, it shows the versatility of the other guys, too, to be able to adjust and go to another position and still do a great job. So we've got a lot of infield talent. I mean, you can pick your poison. Any other guy can stand in there and do the same job.

XANDER BOGAERTS: I mean, you could put any one of us at short, but obviously, honestly, Simmons is the best, so he has to play there. Playing third base, I played there my first year, so that wasn't something new to me this year because I've done it before. But you're not going to take Simmons' spot at shortstop (smiling).

HENSLEY MEULENS: By the way, they haven't made any errors, none of them.

Q. Now you've reached the semifinals, and how does your performance help baseball grow in your home country?
HENSLEY MEULENS: Well, for us from the islands it's already grown. It's already on the top, I think. What has happened in the Netherlands is awareness. People know we have top players from our own country playing at the highest level, and more and more kids are wanting to play now in the Netherlands, and that's what it's all about.

A lot of the money that's being made is for development in the countries, I guess 50% of it, and it's being used for that. More kids are wanting to be like these guys and get to the Major Leagues, so it's awesome.

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