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October 7, 2021

Nelson Cruz

Shane McClanahan

St. Petersburg, Florida, USA

Tropicana Field

Tampa Bay Rays

Postgame 1 Press Conference

Rays 5, Red Sox 0

Q. Shane, I know you told us yesterday you felt ready, you felt confident. How was the experience? Was it different than anything you thought, and how did you feel you did?

SHANE McCLANAHAN: I felt good. I think the most important thing is the team won. The team was awesome tonight. Randy Arozarena stole home plate; that's pretty cool.

So, you know, it was good. I think it was a good overall experience. Trop was buzzing, and we love that, so it was a lot of fun.

Q. Can you walk us what was it like to watch what Randy Arozarena did today?

SHANE McCLANAHAN: I said it three times tonight. That's got to be the Rookie of the Year. I mean, I don't even think it's a competition in my mind where. What that guy does every single day on a baseball field is so special, and I'm so lucky we have him on our team because I don't want to face him.

MODERATOR: We'll be joined by Nelson.

Q. Shane, you struck out the side in the first inning and seemed very emotional when you got it done. How big was that first inning to set a nice tone for you?

SHANE McCLANAHAN: Yeah. I mean, you know, any time you can get a guy like Rafael Devers to swing and miss on a fastball, it's always a good feeling. And the magnitude of the game and even though it was the first inning, you know, runners on second base and every run counts. You know, it could have been a 1-0 game, and ultimately, it meant a lot to get out of that inning unscathed.

Q. Shane, can you just kind of speak to the defense behind you tonight? It seemed like whenever something was hit hard or put in play guys were in the right spots, and that frees you up to attack.

SHANE McCLANAHAN: Yes. I feel like it's every single night, man. They saved my tail so many times, so I feel very lucky to have that group of guys behind me, like I said all season. You know, nothing has changed. They're going to go out there and make the plays.

Q. Nelson, what's your reaction when that ball hits the catwalk? Are you seeing that and knowing what's going on in that moment there when the ball hit the catwalk?

NELSON CRUZ: I had no clue what was going on. I was watching the outfielders. I was, like, what happened? Just thank God it was a homer.

Q. Nelson, what was it like to watch these two rookies in your team perform and your fellow Dominicans perform the way they did today? Like watching Randy Arozarena steal home and hit a home run and then watching what Wander does in his first postseason game ever?

NELSON CRUZ: I've been impressed. They've been doing it all year long. Wander first time in the postseason, he looks very relaxed. It was typical Wander. You know, he did bat pretty well. He swung at pitches for strikes, and he ran the bases pretty good. And Randy, he just, I guess, he goes to a different level once the postseason starts. So it's nice to have those guys at the front of the lineup to put everything in movement. We can score so many ways, not necessarily with the homers. We walk and find a way to get the run home.

Q. Nelson, two parts if I could: One is along the same lines, but you had a bunch of rookies tonight, Shane, J.P., Randy, Wander. I mean, you said today you thought these guys would be fine in the postseason spotlight. Did you see that tonight, and did you think that was a comforting thought that they all did so well and you played kind of like you did during the season?

NELSON CRUZ: No doubt. These guys have so much talent, and they show it every day. You know, once you start the game, it's just another game, and you should take it that way. I think adrenaline can get the best of you. And the fans, it was nice to see them.

Q. The TV had a good shot of you and Manny enjoying the popcorn in the dugout. Where did that come from? Can you explain that?

NELSON CRUZ: (Laughing) They always have popcorn there, but today was the second time I started eating. I was hungry. It was like 11:00. We normally start the game a little early. Around that time I already have dinner, so I was hungry. That was why I take that.

Q. It kind of looked like you were watching a good movie or something.

NELSON CRUZ: Yeah, it was relaxing. I was there watching the game. We were winning by five runs, so let me eat my popcorn and enjoy it.

Q. I sort of had a similar question, not about the popcorn, but about the younger talent. Just you guys have already known what Randy was able to do. Last year he showed that. How cool is it for you to see the young core be so successful and see Wander do the same thing and follow in those same footsteps tonight?

SHANE McCLANAHAN: I have been seeing Wander do stupid stuff since Princeton, Appalachian League. We could tell then he was special, and he just keeps doing it, and it's so impressive to watch. Same thing with Randy, too. You know, it's really fun to go to the field every single day and be, like, I wonder how many home runs Randy is going to hit today or how many diving plays, so it's a lot of fun.

Q. Shane, with those three strikeouts you had in the first inning, that looked ed like three different out pitches. Devers, obviously, on the fastball, and also a curve, and I think a slider. How did you feel about how you were able to mix your stuff tonight?

SHANE McCLANAHAN: I felt good. I felt like I could throw anything at any time for a strike, and, you know, ultimately I didn't get any more strikeouts after the first, but I would rather do what I did and just be efficient and let them hit the ball. And, you know, I got a great group of guys behind me, like I said, and they're going to make every single play.

Q. Shane, through your whole rookie season, it's never seemed like the moment has been too big for you. This was a different kind of moment. How did you feel about being in that moment? Was there any nervousness or was there excitement? How did you feel about being out there?

SHANE McCLANAHAN: I was more excited than anything, to be honest with you. I couldn't stop smiling in warmups just because of how cool the environment was, and I was, like, you got to focus. Like, stop doing that where.

But, yeah, I mean, I felt prepared. I didn't really feel overwhelmed, to be honest with you, and I thought it was a good step in the right direction.

MODERATOR: Thank you so much. Appreciate it. Congratulations, and that's a wrap for this evening, and we'll see everybody tomorrow.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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