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March 7, 2006

Jose Oquendo

Alex Rios


THE MODERATOR: Good evening. We're going to begin the interview with Alex Rios, and we're going to open the floor for questions. John has the microphone. Interviews will be held in English and in Spanish.
Q. Could you tell us about your home run and how did you feel at that moment?
ALEX RIOS: It was a great feeling when I saw the player getting close to the wall; I knew that ball was going out, so I felt really good and very proud of myself.
Q. Cheito, the last pitcher, the switch that happened, were you expecting that result from this pitcher?
JOSE OQUENDO: Well, I was proud of the relievers who did a good job. I didn't expect to use that many, but sometimes that happens. I try to keep them in a low pitch count so we can use them tomorrow, then we have a day off after that.
Q. Alex, in the fourth inning they have bases loaded with nobody out, and you made a catch and then threw a strike to home and they didn't score because the next player didn't make it to home plate. Do you think that changed the momentum of the game?
ALEX RIOS: As you mentioned, it was a short fly, so I don't think that had anything to do with the turnover of the game. I think that we have to give credit to the pitcher; he's the one that did the job for us at that moment.
Q. Cheito, during the fifth inning we left a very difficult and tense situation. It was very silent out there. You could hear the coquis singing. Were you feeling some butterflies in your stomach at that moment?
JOSE OQUENDO: The butterflies in the fifth inning that everybody was silent, what was going on, I think butterflies was probably the whole game for some of the guys.
One of the things we have to address a little bit tomorrow is how many times they swing at the first pitch. In this tournament, pitch count, it counts a lot, so we've got to be more selective and wait more.
Q. When Alex Rios hit his home run, it was the No. 60 pitch, and you only had 33 strikes, and you still were having a shutout against Puerto Rico. Was it affecting the batters? And a commentary on Javier Vazquez and the way he came out of the game.
JOSE OQUENDO: Because he did a great job, he deserves a lot of credit by the way he pitched. We swung at the first pitch a lot. Against Vazquez, Panama did a good job and found a lot of pitches. We didn't help swinging at the first pitch. They did a good job and they should be proud of the way the game came out.
Q. We know that you were the favorites before the game to win, but did you feel at one point -- did you know that it was going to be so hard to beat the Panamanian team?
JOSE OQUENDO: We know from the beginning and I said from the beginning that it was going to be a tough thing. If they were swinging like that anything could happen. I think they came prepared to pitch. I think they had a good start against us. I'm talking about Panama now.
I knew they were going to come out with a good team against us in this series. I think Panama did a good job and I think they had a good start.
Q. Cheito, in the ninth inning with two outs, the Panamanians tried a play. Were you surprised to see them trying that kind of play at that moment?
JOSE OQUENDO: One thing that we do in baseball, we don't go to nobody's house and move furniture around, so I'm not going to second-guess the other manager on the other side. One thing we know is we've got to be prepared for whatever is going on in the game. And do a good job at being alert and throwing the guy out.
Q. Could you talk about Bernie's at-bat in the sixth inning, Bernie Williams' at-bat?
JOSE OQUENDO: Bernie Williams, he's a clutch hitter. He knows how to play the game. He's been improving through the years. In tough situations he always comes through. He did a good job, got a good pitch and hit it back at him, back up the middle and drove a run in. I mean, Bernie Williams is a professional. He did what he always does.
Q. Is Bernie Williams going to continue in the series as the designated hitter?
JOSE OQUENDO: One thing we've got to do is this is spring training, and I want to check with them tomorrow and see how they feel. Bernie Williams and Rodriguez, the whole team, make sure they are 100 percent. I'm probably going to do some changes tomorrow because I want everybody to be part of and participate in the tournament, but I'm going to wait until tomorrow and check how they're feeling, most of the guys.
Q. Why did you make the decision to take out Rodriguez in the seventh inning?
JOSE OQUENDO: One thing, I talked to Ivan about if he were to play the whole game, I probably would give him tomorrow off. Kiko Calero and Javier Valentin was a good match because they know each other. He knows Carlos Lee, and like I said, early in the interview, I know Carlos Lee don't like to see Cardinals. That was a good chance for Javier who knows Carlos Lee and some of the other guys who came out at that time, so he was facing one former Cardinal and one Cardinal, so he had a tough time there.

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