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March 16, 2006

Buck Martinez


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Buck Martinez.
Q. Before the game you were talking about how the society and US had become a whatever society. Do you think the players and team -- this became to them a whatever tournament?
MANGER BUCK MARTINEZ: Not at all. I couldn't be more proud of the way these guys have gone about their business from day one. They have been professionals. They have prepared themselves very well. I would be interested in watching them perform in their regular season, and I think that they're all going to respond very well.
You know there was a lot said about Team USA not really taking this serious, but I can guarantee you there's a lot of guys hurting down in that clubhouse right now. I was very proud of the way they played. They played tough. We just never really got into the groove with the bats. I think that was the big difference in this entire tournament for us is we never really exploded with the bats.
Q. Can you comment on Roger Clemens' pitching performance tonight? And also share with us perhaps your conversation with Roger when you came out to get him in the 5th inning?
MANGER BUCK MARTINEZ: Roger threw the ball very well. Again, he may have gotten a couple of pitches up a little built more than he wanted. I think the ball that went down the right field line was the ball that got up out over the plate a little bit and was trying to bury it down and away.
I think just the emotion of the game, and even a great pitcher like Roger Clemens gets caught up in the moment. I think he was trying to make a perfect pitch and it got away from him a little bit and just elevated up in the zone.
As far as when I went to the mound, he was getting close to his pitch count. More than anything, I think because of the nature of the game -- and this is true with pitch counts whether it's in March or July or October -- when you're battling as Roger Clemens did out there, it has a tendency to drain you a little quicker than a game where you might be breezing.
I just felt like he was near the end of his outing, and at that point, I had Scott shields ready. He was well prepared. I felt the match up was very favorable for Cantu. But Rocket looked at me and looked fatigued. He says, "What do you got out there"? That was a sign that he felt like I did. We probably had a better shot with a fresh arm out there.
Q. Buck, only three hits is your hitters for Mexico pitchers, and why?
MANGER BUCK MARTINEZ: Combination of both. I think the pitching -- the quality of the pitching we saw in this tournament, I think, was much better than certainly I expected on a consistent basis.
I think a lot of our hitters are star hitters. They're used to coming through in that clutch, and I think everybody sensed like, well, I'm going to go ahead and do it and they were probably not ready to do it just yet.
Their timing is such that they were off a bit, but I think more than that -- I think you have to tip your hat to the quality of the pitching we saw pretty much consistently throughout the tournament, especially in this round. The two Asian teams were outstanding with their man and their game plan.
And, again, they made some great pitches tonight out of that Team Mexico bullpen.
Q. Good evening, Mr. Martinez. I'd like to ask you if you were prepared for this defeat being the host country? I know that Team USA was many people's favorite, everyone's favorite. I'd like to hear your opinion now on Team Mexico, and if your last name Martinez has any link to Mexico?
MANGER BUCK MARTINEZ: You never prepare for defeat, obviously. We always prepare to win, and it's a disappointing loss for sure. We were well-prepared against Mexico considering they played a very good game against us and we beat them 2-0 the first time.
Then they got their bats going a little bit. But, again, tonight we pitched very well against them and they scored one more run than us.
As far as Martinez, I have some relatives that are Mexican, and were born into the family -- and married into the family, excuse me. And my grandparents are from Spain.
Q. Looking back on all of this now from your perspective, was this the right time to field a USA team to play in this tournament?
MANGER BUCK MARTINEZ: I feel it's absolutely the right time to play this tournament. The only thing I do differently is I would ask to have a mini camp early in February where you bring the team together. I think we're all aware that some of the other teams had the opportunity to work out. Latin American ball clubs, of course, are playing winter ball.
But for Team USA, I think it's important to have at least a four- or five-day mini camp, if you will, prior to their reporting to spring training where the players could get to know each other, get to understand the challenge at hand.
And then you would see firsthand some of the pitchers throwing. You would have to chance to work with them, and you could explain the process. I think going in the process was new to everyone. Having the players just two days on the 3rd and 4th before we played a game, I think, was a challenge.
Because of the travel concerns from the Tokyo pool, the teams came to Arizona and got to play some exhibition games. I think that was another advantage. They were able to play together as a team.
Obviously, once again, I restate the fact we're not making any excuses. We didn't hit. But if I were to do this again, I would ask to have mini camp so the players would be together. I think we grew as a team the moment we got together. There was so much doubt and so much uncertainty prior to the team seeing each other face-to-face that I think that would be imperative for Team USA.
THE MODERATOR: Two More questions.
Q. Buck, does the outcome of today's game for you, does it shine more of a light on the leagues in these other countries AND the quality they have, or were you getting were you guys challenged by familiar faces from our Major Leagues that obviously is a changing face also? Were you surprised by some of the people who were playing well?
MANGER BUCK MARTINEZ: I think that we weren't surprised by the people that we saw play well. I think we recognize that there's a lot of Major League talents in other countries. We're aware of the talent in Mexico. We're very aware of the talent in Korea and Japan, and, of course, in Latin America.
I don't think that the format was that much of a challenge. I just think that we went through a streak where we didn't hit. We thought we had put together the team fairly effectively with the combination of players, and we just really got into a groove with the bats.
At the same time, generally the old baseball adage is how you beat good hitting is you pitch well. We saw a lot of good pitching, and I think that you have to tip your hat to them, the quality of the pitches.
Many of our hitters came back during the course of this tournament shaking their heads by the quality of pitches they were seeing, especially from Korea and Japan.
Q. Buck, you mention the heightened emotions involved in this tournament and this game. Did you get a sense that the call on the ball off the foul pole that might have lit a little bit more of a fire under Mexico?
MANGER BUCK MARTINEZ: I don't think so. I don't think they needed any incentive. I think the incentive was to come out and respond to the loss in the first round. They have they have a lot of pride, they have a lot of good players, and they had a disappointing second round.
We knew it was going to be a dangerous game from the start. We just couldn't get anything going. Early on we had the first and second situation after Francoeur doubled, and he got a little aggressive at second. No, I don't think they needed any inspiration. I think we saw many of them at the hotel, and they were all very proud of their team and they wanted to represent themselves very well even though they had nothing to gain by it except their pride, and they certainly should be proud of the way they played.

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