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WORLD BASEBALL CLASSIC: FINALS


March 20, 2017


Edwin RodrI­guez


Los Angeles, California

Puerto Rico - 4, Kingdom of the Netherlands - 3 (11)

Q. Congratulations.
EDWIN RODRÍGUEZ: Thank you, thank you.

Q. So having been here twice now in four years and you had kind of an easy Game 4 years ago to get to the finals, what do you take from that and what you did here today to get you on to winning the whole thing this time?
EDWIN RODRÍGUEZ: Well, it was so far, I think, if not the best, I haven't seen every game of the tournament, but this game, it was a great game. So it was very well played, both sides. And the defense and execution won the game today. So it was very important for us to be able to bring the fundamentals of baseball. That's what got us the win today. We turned I think three or four double plays. We bunted the ball well. We pitched to contact. We made contact with runner on third, less than two outs.

So although we've been pretty much overpowering everybody throughout the series, throughout the tournament, today we played very good fundamental baseball, and that's what got us the win.

Q. How much work for a directive to have Yadier Molina with the clutch that's he's shown, not in the 11th inning, because there was more before, when he failed the touch so to make it a touch?
EDWIN RODRÍGUEZ: Well, it was not difficult to order him to do that, although Yadier has had a very good tournament in the offensive. We are facing excellent pitching, so it is different. If we had believed that Yadier was comfortable batting to the pitcher, well, he wouldn't have the touch. But even if he was batting .500 or .600, you need to take into consideration who are you facing. And the pitching tonight was excellent.

Q. You took out Beltran in a situation where they were 3-3. At any point do you think that you would need him as a batter in the following inning? For example, he could have batted because he was third or fourth? So he was next to bat. Secondly, did you think John Callen (phonetic) from Puerto Rico could do the role they had played?
EDWIN RODRÍGUEZ: Well, the first question, this is a game of probabilities, a percentage. And when I took Carlos Beltran out, and then Hernandez came to run for him, he was playing to win in that inning. I was running a risk, yes, I was. But this is a game of risks. So nothing is black or white. Everything is great, and you have to make decisions.

Regarding the acting of the young players, yes, it was a surprise for at least for me the way that we have had our offensive approach, the way that we have been throwing or pitching.

But tonight they graduated. Tonight they do deserve to go where we're headed, which is the final game. Because they handled the basic fundamentals from baseball. We had crucial double plays, and that was the game itself. That double play from T.J. Rivera, 3-6-3 double play, and after that Javier BĂĄez, two double plays. Those were World Series. And after that, they ran the bases excellent. So today the team that better executed the plays, and the basics from the game, I tip my hat to the Netherlands.

Q. From the losses you always learn, especially 2013 facing Dominican Republic. How much did that defeat motivate the Puerto Rican team to come back to this World Baseball Classic to validate themselves because they were unable to reach the finals?
EDWIN RODRÍGUEZ: From defeat we learned, but we learned more from the great success we had in 2013. In 2013 nobody said we were going to go beyond the first round in Puerto Rico and we were able to reach the final game. So we did learn from the defeat from the Dominican Republic, but we learned more from the second.

We have the talent, we have the staff, and we were able to execute the game and the plays as they should be executed. Then they were able to reach far, and that was what we learned the best. The most important thing we learned from that defeat in 2013.

Q. Can you talk about the value of the two plays in the first inning by Yadi, how they helped you?
EDWIN RODRÍGUEZ: We were just talking about that. That first inning when Yadi Molina threw the guy, threw to second on the bunt attempt we made on first and second, he threw to second. We got the out at third base. Then on a base hit, and I mean, he threw -- he surprised me when he threw to first. For me, that was the game. That first inning that Yadi Molina did what he did, for me, that was the game. Then again, Yadier Molina came to play.

Q. Which aspect do you consider the difference of this team than the one who went to play in 2003 and what is your plan for the last game?
EDWIN RODRÍGUEZ: Well, the aspect that highlights this team compared to 2013 truly is the talent. We have a bank of talent that is wider than in 2013. There are more options. Not only the ones in the lineup, but also we have more options in our reserve players, and that is a huge difference.

But how the game is played or the commitment or the intensity or the passion, they both are very similar. As you mentioned, clearly already in the final, and with we have short memory. That already happened, so now we're thinking about game on Wednesday. Seth Lugo will start for us, the right-hander, and also Jose Berrios, and also we're going to look at the bullpen to see who is available for Wednesday where Edwin Diaz will not be available. But I hope that we have the advantage of seven runs in the 9th inning.

Q. When we started the coverage of the team of Puerto Rico, you said we were going to face each other in L.A. Tell me about that confidence in the tournament as you say yes, we are going to be here in the final in Los Angeles.
EDWIN RODRÍGUEZ: Well, this is based on the talent that I have available that we have to reach in 2013 also the bank of talent that we have this year. That's where my comfort was based. These young players are really hungry. The veterans like Yadier Molina and Carlos Beltran, really wanting and knowing that we just fell short in 2013.

So that gave us some confidence, and they have not let us down. Not only they came to play, but they've played under control with much joy, are passion, and shouting, and jumping. But they remain concentrated on the game. So that gave us also the confidence.

Q. How much emotional charge did this game have? And what is the plan for tomorrow?
EDWIN RODRÍGUEZ: Well, tomorrow the best that could happen is tomorrow is a day off, so I believe that we have lots of emotion, much tension in 24 to 48 hours. We'll need it in order to lower the adrenaline. But tomorrow we are going to come to the park. Apparently it's going to rain tomorrow so the field will be covered, and we will have a light workout in the batting cages.

At most we're going to sit down, we're going to talk, we're going to analyze what could happen on Wednesday. And we're going to have a workout that is going to be light in the batting cage, and lower the adrenaline, and we're going to play under control and continue doing so.

Q. Can you give us your brief impression of the two teams that are still left, U.S. and Japan? Also, do you think you've got the advantage having your one day under your pocket?
EDWIN RODRÍGUEZ: Well, regarding USA and Japan, at the end, although they're very different, they're very similar. USA has a very powerful lineup, very strong pitching. The bullpen, I mean, they had a great bullpen and they can win the game in so many ways. They can overpower you, they can hit-and-run, they can play defense.

And then Japan, Japan always has been able to play a very good tournament because they come in very prepared. They play very basic baseball. They don't beat themselves. You really have to beat them.

So I don't have any favorite for Wednesday, so whoever wins tomorrow, we're ready for them. Then again, hopefully -- I'm pretty sure they're going to have a great game tomorrow. We're going to be watching very closely. Whoever comes in, shows up on Wednesday, we're going to be here.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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