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March 13, 2006

Buck Martinez

Dontrelle Willis


THE MODERATOR: We'll start with questions for Team United States Manager, Buck Martinez, and we'll have Dontrelle Willis joining.
Q. Buck, given that Dontrelle was kind of put out front, he was obviously very enthusiastic about playing for the team, kind of a poster boy for it. Do you really feel for him given the struggles he's been through in these two games?
MANAGER BUCK MARTINEZ: Absolutely. Dontrelle's a special young man. He's been he was very excited about being on this team. Unfortunately, he just hasn't had his good command this last couple of starts since the night he was really battling that -- the homerun he gave up to Lee. Just didn't get the pitch where he wanted to. He Lee is very hot right now, and Dontrelle just didn't have good command tonight.
I think we left a lot of pitches out over the plate, missing our locations, and he fell behind. But certainly he will be much better.
Q. Sorry to ask you such a question. Which is important for your team, to young guy to have enough rest, or win the game? Do you need one more win or --
MANAGER BUCK MARTINEZ: I think we have done a pretty good job of spreading work-out among everybody, and I think we have all been about winning now. And tonight Dontrelle was just fighting himself a little bit. So we had to go to the pen early on and, you know, I think it was just -- I felt, at that point that Dontrelle was battling his control a little bit too much to stay with him, and we just got him out of there.
Q. Buck, Asians are known for playing small ball. Sort of beat you at your own game today. Does that surprise you at all with the homeruns, and even intentionally walked a guy?
MANAGER BUCK MARTINEZ: No, it doesn't. Of course, Lee has been red hot in this tournament. Obviously he had a great series in Tokyo, and we were well aware of that. We were trying to get the ball out away from him and get him to chase something on the outer half of the plate and the ball ran back over the middle of the plate.
We were very aware he has good power. Obviously, he's been hot. And Hee Seop Choi, we knew him very well having seen a lot of him. And, again, we just didn't quite get the ball in on him. We felt like if we could do it, and the ball kind of ran back over the plate. He got enough of it to hit it over to fence, and that was a huge hit for him at the time.
Walking Lee ahead of him with the base open I just felt like it was the best move. Because we hadn't made too many good pitches to him right then, so I figured we would take our chances. Indeed, if we did switch to Choi, we felt we could make some pitches on him. And unfortunately he connected to the home run.
Q. Buck, you've been here obviously before in the first round you lost the gun you had to sit and wait until the next game to see what transpires. Now it seems like you need Japan to lose at least one game, and then you beat Mexico. How do you prepare for the next couple of days? What do you do?
MANAGER BUCK MARTINEZ: I think the toughest aspect of a tournament is sitting around watching other games going on while you're not playing. Now we have two days off before we play again. Certainly having the game in hand and now our record is one-and-one with the prospects of Roger Clemens going against Mexico on Thursday, it's a pretty good situation.
At the same time, you know, we need to have a little cooperation in the pool, but that's the fate. I think tonight Korea, they made some great pitches when they had to. They really pitched very well. We hit some balls hard. Chipper hit the ball at the shortstop that turned into a double play. And a couple of times when they had a chance to get back in the game, I think you really have to commend their pitchers for making quality pitches.
We saw good command of the fastball again, and the velocity was good. They made quality pitches when they had to, so you have make tip your hat to them.
Q. Buck, you were very impressed with the Japanese yesterday. How do the South Koreans compare? I also have a question for Dontrelle. You've said in the past that you've had trouble channeling your excitement. Was that the case tonight?
MANAGER BUCK MARTINEZ: I'll compare the first -- the two teams, first question. Obviously, very patient, executed very well. When they got a good pitch to hit, they didn't miss it. And I think they had a good game plan on their way to pitch us because they had some very good at-bats and crucial points where they pitched very effectively to the heart of our order.
I think one thing that was a challenge tonight was the fact that Chipper Jones had to face four different pitchers at pivotal points of the ballgame. And even though he hit the ball hard a couple times, it was a challenge for him to see that many quality pitchers in four separate at-bats.
Q. For Dontrelle, you've said in the past that you had trouble channeling or curbing your excitement about being here. Do you think that was the case tonight?
DONTRELLE WILLIS: No, not at all. I think I was very composed out there. I had a great game plan. Just didn't execute, bottom line. They did a great job of executing their game plan as far as, you know, when I missed the zone. They squared up the balls. When things are going well, that's what happens. They had rhythm, at-bat rhythm today, but for the most part, I felt strong and felt like I had a good game plan out there.
THE MODERATOR: Next question.
Q. Mr. Martinez, Korea team used a lot of pitchers from Korean league who were not familiar with your hitters. But were you surprised by the quality of the pitches of the Korean pitchers from Korea because they didn't use Chan Ho or Jae Seo or big leaguers?
MANAGER BUCK MARTINEZ: Was I surprised with the quality? Not at all. We had pretty good information on the pitchers we saw. I think they executed very well. They got the meat of our order a couple times where they made great pitches with splits. They located their fastballs very effectively.
And for the second game in a row, we have seen quality pitchers out of their bullpen. That's always a challenge when you're having to face good, quality pitchers in successive at-bats. I think that was the strength of our team in round one where we could have good arms, one right after another. And we have seen that in both of the first two games in Japan and Korea.
Q. Dontrelle, almost from day one, you've been upfront about being so excited to be here. Given that, how disappointing has it been to have a couple of rough outings? Second part of the question, if you guys go advance, will this be difficult to put this aside and try to get back to the level you're used to playing at?
DONTRELLE WILLIS: That's a great question. I'm still excited to be here. But again, bottom line I'm just not playing good baseball.
I'm a man. I can admit when I'm not playing well. And right now, I'm just not playing the best baseball I can possibly play.
Still happy to be here. This is still the greatest honor I could ever dream up, but I'm hoping that we advance. That will give me another start.
That's the biggest thing in playing the big leagues and being a starter is no matter how you do that day, there's another start four days later.
And, you know, just right now, the biggest thing for me being a young guy is consistency in my work as far as my game plan, and I feel like I've been preparing myself to get ready and my work's been good. The results haven't. So my confidence is still up.
MANAGER BUCK MARTINEZ: I would like to say something about that. I don't think there's a man in that clubhouse that doesn't want to give the ball to Dontrelle Willis. It's just a matter of giving him one more chance, and we're going to do everything we can to make sure he gets the ball.
Q. Dontrelle, sure had a rough night tonight, but what it's like inning after inning to be in the dugout and see a team with this kind of star power and fire power get hammered pretty good?
DONTRELLE WILLIS: Well, it's tough to lose any ballgame, whether it be 6 to 7, 1 to nothing, or 7 to 3 like tonight, but it's baseball. And I think that's the beauty of it.
It's a double-edged sword. That's the reason why we grew up playing. Anything can happen in a given ballclub. Unfortunately, we've been on the short end of the stick lately. It's definitely frustrating to see because we know the capability of our team, and we haven't hit it yet, but we're still going out there playing hard and not only representing each other, but our country.
So hopefully in the next couple of days, we can just enjoy these days off and try to just go back out there and win an important baseball game.

End of FastScripts...

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