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March 11, 2006

Jose Oquendo


Q. For people who have never seen a Caribbean series and who have only been here for a few days, Puerto Rico, Dominica, Venezuela, Cuba. What do you think the passion is going to be like for these games?
JOSE OQUENDO: I think the passion is going to be a lot more than it was in the first round. You know, we had representatives from Panama and the Netherlands, but this is what people was looking for. This is probably what the event was looking for, Venezuela, Puerto Rico and Cuba. Hopefully two of these teams will go to the second round, hopefully we'll be one of them.
Q. It seems like in the United States or people who I've spoken to, the fans in the U.S., they're interested, but they're not crazed about it. Here I think people are kind of -- it's in their heart. They really want to see their country succeed.
JOSE OQUENDO: Well, you've been through a transition where there's a lot of rivalry between islands. It's true of a division series or an event we do in the wintertime. When we get together in the States, we all talk about bragging rights, and we have fun with it. We still do it with respect. I think you're going to see it between the players, maybe not as much with the fans. The fans are going to take it like a fight. We're going to take it as bragging rights, and we respect each other and play the game the way the game is supposed to be played, with respect.
Q. There seems to be a little animosity between you guys and the Cubans yesterday, Pudge (Rodriguez) was staring up at the pitcher a couple times. Do you think that's going to carry over?
JOSE OQUENDO: I didn't see that. There was only one of us hitting them yesterday, but I think it was more a mistake. We know we're going to pitch in, we know we're going to pitch the corners, and we wanted a way to have success against the Cuban team, and that's keeping a balance. We hang the pitches, throw above the letters, and we're going to come in, and we're going to come in down and in, up and in.
Q. So there's no bad blood between you guys?
JOSE OQUENDO: No, we respect each other, we respect the game. We go and get ready for the next round.
Q. A lot of guys have described that (Yulieski) Gourriel, the Cuban third baseman is major league ready. What's your opinion?
JOSE OQUENDO: Well, he has major league potential. I don't know if he's ready or not. Sometimes you see a guy from one day and he impresses you, but through a long period of time you think he might need some more time. I don't know, but he does have a lot of potential to be a major league player.
Q. Have you talked to the pitchers about facing this line-up? Are they up for the challenge? Do they seem like they're nervous at all?
Q. The Dominican.
JOSE OQUENDO: No, we have somebody in Orlando doing scouting over there. I had some reports from the past that I brought in. Molina knows a lot of the guys in the National League. Pudge Rodriguez knows the guys in the Dominican league. We're going to sit down and talk like we did with the Cuban team and talk about a game plan.
Q. Cheito, what kind of adjustments do you have to do with the Dominicans because they're a very well-balanced team as we've seen. I think the pitchers are even more solid. What kind of adjustments are you going to be making to be facing the Dominicans.
JOSE OQUENDO: What I believe is that we don't really need to make that many adjustments. I believe that we just have to be working with them in the strike zone, and we have to be aggressive both inside and outside. We have to make sure that all the markers, everything is well-balanced, and we have to play really well on the defense.
This is a key element for any type of tournament, a short tournament such as this one.
Q. Well, some of them are really, really strong batters one after the other. You know, they're really, really strong. Is there any specific type of adjustment that you have to do with regard to the very strong batters on the other team, the Dominican Republic?
JOSE OQUENDO: You know, you were asked me practically the same question. You are asking me the same question. I don't have to make any type of adjustment. Basically we have to keep the ball at the strike zone. You have to attack it. My guys, they have their own game. They have their way of playing. The fact of the matter is they cannot make mistakes. We try and avoid errors.

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