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March 22, 2017

Marcus Stroman

Christian Yelich

Los Angeles, California

USA - 8, Puerto Rico - 0

THE MODERATOR: Congratulations, Christian. We just announced you were on the All-Tournament team, so congratulations on that as well.

Q. When you signed up for this, I'm sure you had expectations of what the experience would be like, maybe even allowed yourself to think about playing all the way to the last game. How is it different than what you may have expected? How are your emotions about winning and things like that? How has all of that changed with the experience?
CHRISTIAN YELICH: Yeah, I mean, signing up for this, I didn't really know what to expect. It was more I'm excited to represent our country and play with these guys you get to know from across the field, from the opposite dugout. And the way this team came together and just went out every night and did anything we can to win, it was special to be a part of. It was the most fun I've ever had playing baseball.

Q. I've been asking some of the players. You know, baseball is America's pastime, yet the U.S. had not done that well in the World Baseball Classic. Is there some satisfaction that you've become the first American team not just in the finals but to win it?
CHRISTIAN YELICH: Yeah, absolutely. We knew that going in that we hadn't done great in this tournament, but that's because there are so many good teams. Every night was a tough game. There were no easy games in this tournament. Other teams played with passion, and their fan bases were behind them. The American crowd showed out this year too.

In San Diego when we played the Dominican, and against Japan last night, and obviously tonight against Puerto Rico, it was awesome and it was really fun to be a part of. I'm glad we were the first ones to be able to do it.

Q. There's been a few comments about guys putting aside their ego. You mentioned this team coming together. What allowed this particular group in your mind to come together so quickly?
CHRISTIAN YELICH: I think we just all had a common goal when we came here. There was only one thing on our mind, was to win this thing and to do whatever we can to win. I think that helped us come together.

Just great guys, great personalities. Guys in there who have won World Series in the past, multiple World Series. They kind of just led the way, and I think that was a big part of our success.

THE MODERATOR: We welcome Marcus Stroman, the tournament MVP.

Q. Marcus, Jim said when he was in here a few minutes ago that he actually thought about taking you out after the sixth. Did he actually bring that up to you, and if he did, how did he talk about it?
MARCUS STROMAN: No, he didn't. He didn't bring that up to me.

Q. What would you have done?
MARCUS STROMAN: I'm sure I would have been upset initially, but I have so much respect for Mr. Leyland. He's the man. I never played for such a down-to-earth, humble, confident manager. He is able to rile us up in the perfect ways. I feel like every word he says is calculated and perfect and knows how to get us going.

It was an experience. I loved playing for him. I'm kind of upset that he's leaving the game and won't be managing again. But I don't think I would have battled him taking me out.

Q. Marcus, you seemed to have something under the bill of your cap, I'm assuming inspiration of some kind. Would you mind sharing that at all?
MARCUS STROMAN: No, I can't share it. It's just something I always write on the bottom of my caps. It's just motivation and fuel, it goes back to since I was playing in probably 2008 and 2009.

Q. On your way off the field you were nodding, you were biting your lip. What was that about? What were you telling people of the world, the Puerto Rican team, your teammates, people at home? What were you saying with that, I got this sort of thing?
MARCUS STROMAN: I love pitching in these moments. I love the atmosphere. I feel like the bigger the game, the more I'm able to get up, the more effective I am. I truly try to pride myself on being a big-game pitcher. This was probably one of the biggest if not the biggest game I've ever pitched in, and that was just a nod to coming off with a lead and giving us an opportunity to win that game. I mean, the defense behind me was incredible. The guys swung the bats all tourney, which is a testament to our entire team. It was a full team effort out there.

Q. Marcus, last week this same team got you for eight hits and four runs in 4 and 2/3. What was different tonight compared to that outing last week?
MARCUS STROMAN: It's baseball. Sometimes those hits fall, sometimes they don't. But I think ultimately I was a little more effective with my location and my sinker. I was down more. Last time I was a little up. I was able to vary timings today.

That lineup's unbelievable; unbelievable 1 through 9. You have to do your best to control them and contain them each and every pitch because there is no letup. So I was confident. I was locked in, and luckily we came out with the W.

Q. Being a guy who grew up around here, did you have family and friends here? What was it like to do it here where you grew up?
CHRISTIAN YELICH: It was special. I had a lot of family and friends in the crowd tonight. Even last night. But especially after we pretty much got the last out of that game last night until before game time, your phone's blowing up and everybody's kind of wishing you luck, telling you they're going to be in the stands.

You don't really need any extra motivation for a moment like that. It was just special to go out there and win, and he went out and threw one hell of a game. I think we all had all the confidence in the world in him that he was going to be able to do that. We all know he likes the moment, and that's exactly what he did.

Q. Marcus, it's always special to win a championship. But for you, is it more special to win versus Puerto Rico?
MARCUS STROMAN: No, I think it's just more emphasis on just winning for America, for the United States. Obviously, this is our first win. We've had a few early exits in the past. So each and every guy came into this with one goal, and that was to win it. There was no one that kind of went about it lackadaisical. Everyone was into every single pitch.

And we had that pride and faith in every single guy on this team, and we kind of formed a camaraderie over the last two weeks extremely quick. We grew as a unit, and it felt by the end of it that we've been playing for a while.

So I love these guys. It was an unbelievable experience, and I'll be back in four years to defend the title.

Q. This is such a high right now and the season hasn't even started yet. How do you avoid an early season letdown at this point for both of your teams?
MARCUS STROMAN: I mean, it's baseball. There is no letdown. You go back to camp, get your work in, and Opening Day probably starts in a week and a half. But I pretty much take the same intensity into each and every game. So I don't think there is any such thing as a letdown.

Q. We've already heard Marcus talk about what it was like to play for Jim. I just want to get your perspective on what it was like to play for him and some things that you can share about what he did in the short amount of time that you were together that motivated you guys and got you guys together for you to be able to go on this run.
CHRISTIAN YELICH: Yeah, he was awesome. I mean, he cares about each and every one of us. It meant a lot to him for us to go out there and play the game the right way. Go out there and represent our country well. That's what he told us after the game.

I really enjoyed playing for him. I think all the guys did. There is a reason why he's such a great manager and had such a great career as manager. Like Marcus said, it's a shame that he's leaving the game of baseball, per se. At least we got to send him out on top, if this is his last one, and we're happy for him. Really happy that we got that one.

MARCUS STROMAN: We'll bring him back in four years.

Q. When did Jim tell you that you're pitching tonight, and what kind of talks did you have with him?
MARCUS STROMAN: They came to me pretty early, to be honest with you. When we were in San Diego, I think after one of those first starts, they pretty much let me know that I was going to have the championship game if we made it there. That whole entire staff, Jim, Jonesy, Willie, I feel like every single person on that staff had an unbelievable amount of confidence in me as well as the guys behind me.

So when I feel that, I have enough confidence in myself, so when I can get that from the people around me, that just brings me to another level, I feel. I truly felt that each and every start that everyone knew I was going to go out there and perform and dominate.

Q. You both have talked about how you were inspired enough in the championship game of the WBC. But what did the T-shirts and parade for Puerto Rico, what did that do on top of the added inspiration you guys already had?
MARCUS STROMAN: What did the T-shirts say?

Q. Yeah, the T-shirts that were made, Champions Puerto Rico, and the parade they had planned? How did that inspire you guys internally?
MARCUS STROMAN: Yeah, I mean, definitely added a little fuel to the fire, right. Trying to pretty much count us out before the game even started. We knew that going into it. So I think each and every guy kind of put that on their shoulders and wins the game with that mentality.

CHRISTIAN YELICH: Yeah, we knew about it. It's not like we really needed any extra motivation for a night like tonight. We wanted that just as bad even if they had T-shirts and a parade planned for tomorrow, allegedly.

But we knew that guys were going to go out there and do our job. We were talking before the game that there's no way we lose this. We just couldn't see a scenario where we lost this tournament. All throughout it we were confident, and we just knew that if we went out and did what we had to do, we were going to come out on top. And Marcus set the tone right off the bat and just was dealing, and we kind of fed off that and we were just rolling ever since.

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