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WORLD BASEBALL CLASSIC: FINALS


March 22, 2017


Edwin RodrI­guez


Los Angeles, California

THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, Edwin. Questions for Edwin?

Q. On a personal note, if you guys win tonight, will this rank number one in your life as far as achievements?
EDWIN RODRÍGUEZ: Oh, definitely. Either way I think I have to say it's number one. 2013 was very special, but 2017 with this talented group, it means a lot. I have to say, number one.

Q. With the expectation to go to Puerto Rico to celebrate, what are you expecting when you go to Puerto Rico regarding the celebration party?
EDWIN RODRÍGUEZ: Well, truly, I have no idea what's going to happen after the game. I am so concentrated on my lineup and who we're going to be batting. We're just concentrating on playing the game, nine innings. Afterwards, tell me where to go, and I'll be there. But I don't know the details.

Q. (Off microphone)?
EDWIN RODRÍGUEZ: Well, yes, I think that it's good and it's healthy, so we are going to celebrate if we have to celebrate, yes.

Q. Independently from the fact that you win or lose today, how do you feel, the effort that the team gave? Do you feel they gave everything they could? Are you satisfied with the process of forming a team and taking them to the last game to see them execute as they have done?
EDWIN RODRÍGUEZ: I am 100% satisfied because of the structure of this team. It started years ago. We were able to see the talent that was growing up, Correa, Lindor, Baez, Edwin Diaz, Joe Jimenez. And years ago we were already thinking of this kind of talent, the integration that it called as general manager was key, also to have the staff and the players. And the way that they have played, especially, this has been great from the beginning till the end. Independently of what happened today, this has been very special for me.

Q. What do you expect the fact that Puerto Rico has reached this far? Is it enough for the growth of baseball in Puerto Rico? What do you think the victory will bring to Puerto Rico?
EDWIN RODRÍGUEZ: I believe with the performance that we had in Mexico and San Diego that the excitement for baseball in Puerto Rico has been increasing. It grows and grows, and it becomes stronger.

So we have the foundation about six years ago. But obviously to win always of course attracts people that are in the positions of helping even more further in the field to develop the program, to develop a consciousness and the prospects so youngsters can see in Lindor or Correa or somebody like that so they can imagine a future.

Yes, of course, the World Baseball Classic will help that foundation, but I believe that we have reached our objective.

Q. In case that you win, we have had comments that some players can even fly to Puerto Rico?
EDWIN RODRÍGUEZ: Yes, sir. The president of the federation -- that would depend of each of the teams, of their players.

Q. So do they need permission to travel?
EDWIN RODRÍGUEZ: Yes, that is a situation that we currently have. Because each of these players have a different situation. Some are established in the Major Leagues, others that have not played much and they're not established in the Major Leagues.

So currently I could not tell you an answer because I have no details. I have kept myself apart from that. We will know who is going to go to Puerto Rico when I see them on the airplane. So everybody wants to go, but they have to respond to their careers.

Q. Let me ask two questions. One is first round you played Stroman and you are going to run into a fight with the U.S. against Stroman as the pitcher. What is your impression of what kind of pitcher he is? And the other question, in order for Puerto Rico to win, what is the key point? What is the dividing point, win or lose, for Puerto Rico to win in this game? What do you think? What would be the key point for you to win or lose?
EDWIN RODRÍGUEZ: Well, the first question regarding Stroman, we already faced him. We have scouting reports on him. We have videos on him, so we have a very good idea what kind of pitcher we're facing. So we feel very confident. We have to be looking for -- I mean, he has a great repertoire. He's a quality, established, Major League pitcher.

But we have to look for some, maybe, tendency of getting behind in the count. We have to be looking for -- sometimes he gets a tendency to elevate his pitches, all of that. Like a regular pitcher. So we have to be looking for that. I mean, if he comes in and all his pitches are working and all that, he's going to be a very, very tough pitcher to score on him.

Regarding the other question, which I don't remember which one it was. Let me check again.

Q. This tournament, in order for Puerto Rico to win this final, what is the key point for Puerto Rico in order to win this final game?
EDWIN RODRÍGUEZ: For us to have a real chance to win this ballgame, we are very aware of the quality of the teams that we've been facing in this tournament, especially here in Los Angeles. We are very aware the kind of team we're facing today. It is an All-Star team. So we have to be playing almost a perfect game defensively, offensively. Playing for 27 outs, no more. So we have to be executing the same way we've been executing the last seven games.

So, yes, we are very aware of the quality of the team we are facing, and we have to play a very clean game offensively and defensively, especially scoring early in the game.

Q. How long do you expect Seth to go tonight? What is the status of your bullpen? Is everyone available?
EDWIN RODRÍGUEZ: Not everyone is available. Hector Santiago is not available. I think that other than that, everybody, including Edwin Diaz, is available.

So Seth Lugo, he's able to go to the max, I think it's 90, 95 pitches. And he is in in-season form right now. Hopefully he can get us to the fifth inning. We're still close in the game, winning the game. And then after that, it could be Jose Berrios and it could be the entire bullpen except Hector Santiago.

Q. More of a big-picture question here. What changes have you seen take place back on the island and its baseball infrastructure, say, over the past ten years that's allowed such a talented group to emerge and come up and get to this point in the World Baseball Classic?
EDWIN RODRÍGUEZ: Yes, that's a very good question. Huge changes for the last, I would say, eight years. I would say, like I mentioned before, ever since we started off with Carlos Correa selection in the first pick of the draft, and then after that the 2013 WBC addition, and then Lindor, Baez, and Correa, I mean, there's more youngsters playing baseball. The last I would say 10, 15 years those good athletes, they were either playing baseball or volleyball or basketball, and now soccer.

So right now because we have so many talented young players in the Big Leagues, those very good athletes, when they get to that age of 15-, 16-year-olds, they're more inclined to stay in baseball. That's why we are seeing more and more talented baseball players through developing in Puerto Rico and through the Minor Leagues.

Q. In your country, many baseball players have been making a big history in baseball. So what's it mean for your country to win this title today?
EDWIN RODRÍGUEZ: Well, the meaning of the country, it means a lot being in this kind of quality tournament, and for the second year being in the championship game. Like I said before, it means a lot for the team. It means a lot for the country, and even for the Caribbean. I mean, Latin American baseball, it means a lot.

Right now, when we got to Los Angeles, we were very aware that we were the only Latin American team. So it means a lot for Puerto Rico, for Cuba, for the Dominican, for Colombia. And we are very aware of that. We played very good baseball in that area, Caribbean, Latin America area. Of course we're trying to win, and we're trying to get that championship, but also we're very aware of what we represent for the area.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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