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March 8, 2006

Buck Martinez

Dontrelle Willis


THE MODERATOR: Ready to go. First question's for manager Martinez.
Q. Buck, obviously you're in a precarious position now with the tie breakers. How do you see it at this point?
BUCK MARTINEZ: Well obviously you know, we don't want to even think about that. We haven't even got into that far yet. But Canada came out very aggressive today. Tip your hat to them. They Came out against Dontrelle, hit some pretty good pitches and hit some mistakes.
But they were very aggressive. We knew they would be swinging the bats, but we haven't even thought about the situation. We'll just regroup after this game and get ready for Friday.
Q. Buck, after the hat tipping, are you shocked, surprised? What's your emotion, your mood?
Q. -- after the outcome of this game.
BUCK MARTINEZ: Not shocked by any means. Canada, we knew what their make up was all about. We all knew they were tough. Adam Loewen I have seen before, and I knew second half of his season a year ago he got a lot better.
We knew that he had that cutter. He got it in the hands, right hands. We had chance with bases loaded during the ballgame and didn't take advantage of it. Kind of gave him some confidence but, you know, he pitched a heck of a game and he showed a lot of composure for a guy that hasn't pitched above A-Ball. But we knew he had a good arm and we were dealing with a quality pitcher.
Q. You say you're not shocked, but yet this team almost lost to South Africa last night.
BUCK MARTINEZ: Obviously, they got a wake up call last night; we knew that. We were aware of that. But at the same time, we didn't get that many scoring opportunities against Loewen, and the ones we did, we had an opportunity base loaded and didn't cash it in.
I think one thing we have learned quickly in this international play is anything can happen, and we have seen that throughout the course of this tournament no matter which pool you're looking at.
But you put this you put your flag on your chest and you go out there and play, and people get fueled by that and you see exceptional things being done by very competitive people.
And although the roster of Canada might not be ladened with experienced Major Leaguers, they got a lot the heart. We've known that. I've known it personally for 21 years being in Canada. And these guys came out ready to play together.
Q. What was the feeling in the dugout? Was it disappointment? Was it anger? I wouldn't say embarrassment, because that talks about Canada.
BUCK MARTINEZ: It's a baseball game. These thigns happen. We played one game and I mentioned it throughout the course of this whole process I believe that there are 7 or 8 teams that can beat anybody on a given night. That's the nature of baseball. Ball snuck under Vernon Wells glove. The ball got away from Matt out in left field. There were a lot of things. We had a great play by Francoeur to throw a run out at the plate.
It's definitely a game of inches, but it was very much disappointment. It's a very quiet locker room right now. I think everybody is feeling like they got kicked in the stomach. This team has a lot of pride. It's a tough day today.
Q. Buck, this is still relatively speaking early in spring training. We saw last night Team Canada play a much different ballgame than they played tonight. Tonight, Dontrelle Willis gets in trouble early on. Could that be the equalizer in this tournament, the fact that there is some rust out there?
BUCK MARTINEZ: I don't know if it's rust as much as it is adrenalin. They're not used to having this much adrenalin this early in the season.
I think more than anything, Dontrelle was probably a little pumped up. Dontrelle has been into this thing since day one. We went out there with the anticipation of having a good oughting, and he's thrown well and he's made some some good pitches, but I think the adrenalin got him. You have eight left-handers in the lineup and you think it's a pretty favorable match-up, but you have to tip your hat to the tough hitters they have in their lineup.
Q. Buck, does possibly having to win Friday's game, do you think that will change anything you do strategically in terms of making substitutions the way you have the first two days trying to get everybody in?
BUCK MARTINEZ: Well, I still think that, you know, anybody on this team can win a game for us. And we've got a lot of confidence. And you look at what Francoeur did and that great play defensively. Chase Utley almost hit another big homerun for us.
I think everybody on this team is focused and ready to contribute. So we'll evaluate what we're going to do on Friday probably tomorrow. But I think the way the substitutions have gone, it's worked out pretty well where we got Johnny Damon to the plate at an opportune time late in the game. He got on base. We were able to do some things, but we'll think about that tomorrow.
Q. Buck, it looks like Shields and Holliday were just limping down the hall. I don't know if they were going for treatment or what, but what's their status and why didn't Holliday come out of the game when he was obviously limping after that inside-the-park homerun --
BUCK MARTINEZ: He was fine. He rolled over his ankle very -- it was kind of just a minor tweak in his ankle. We went out there to make sure. We asked him if it was anything involving a muscle pull or anything. He assured us he was 100 percent fine. And the trainer, David Tumbas, checked him out, had him do some exercises, range of motion things. We're not concerned about him one bit.
Q. (Inaudible.)
BUCK MARTINEZ: I'm not aware of anything wrong with Shields. Scotty Schields had nothing wrong during the course of the game, and he was fine.
Q. Buck, what were your impressions of Adam Stern as a possible major league player?
BUCK MARTINEZ: Adam Stern had an unfortunate injury a year ago and tore up his thumb and missed a lot of time in spring training, but he's got a lot of tools.
We've known that he is a good defender in the field. He's got a lot of speed. And obviously we have talked about this tournament being a platform for people to let the world know what kind of players they are, and Adam Stern took advantage of that today. He's a big player with a big heart.
A lot of these Canadian players come out to beat you. They don't care who you are, what you have on your chest. And Adam Stern is one of those guys. He's a very talented player.
Q. Buck, as remote as it is, there is a circumstance here where before you guys even get out on the field against South Africa, you could be eliminated or you could also have clinched it. I mean, that's where it comes to now. And actually, the way the tie-breaking system works, the fact that you guys came back and scored six runs even though you lost might have saved yourself for the tournament.
BUCK MARTINEZ: I think that's the perils of pool play. When you get into a pool play like this and playing two rounds of pool play, you have to be conscious of not falling too far behind and not having a big run differential.
We have mentioned this throughout this stay in Arizona, how you have to continue to grind and score runs. And even when you're ahead, continue to score runs because you never know how the pool play is going to unfold. It's certainly played itself out now.
Q. Buck, your first two relievers were late additions to the club. Were they behind a little bit in their preparations?
BUCK MARTINEZ: I don't think so. I think Al I'd seen throw a few times in Tampa. I think, you know, just one of those situations where up against a pretty good hitter, Matty Stairs. Just a good hitter and a guy that got the pitch down and away, and he took it back up the middle.
But I don't think he was any further behind than anybody else. I think he was involved in the process mentally from day one. It was just a matter that he was added late. It didn't have anything to do. He and Gary Majewski were both aware of the possibility of being on this team from day one.
Q. When the Team USA came here, we knew there were full of Superstars. You have the big names here. The Canadian team has some names that we know, but relatively few big names. Can you explain maybe to American fans how this all happened today? And do you -- I'm sure you don't consider it an embarrassment, but how would you respond to it if people ask you if it's an embarrassment to lose when you have so many Superstars?
BUCK MARTINEZ: Like I say, I don't know that there is such a thing as an embarrassment. You play the game, in this case 30 people, anything can happen on a given day. We went out there fully aware that Canada was a very strong opponent. We were prepared for them mentally, and they just happened to come out swinging the bats.
Q. Is it simply just they were the hot team today?
BUCK MARTINEZ: They had a hot hand today. They rode the momentum of their win last night. They came in. We knew they were going to be prepared. We knew they were going to be aggressive, and they got some hits. The ball snuck under Vernon's glove in right field, a sinking liner. That's the way the ball bounces.
But like I said, there's a bunch of teams in this entire tournament that are capable of upsetting another on a given night.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Dontrelle as well as Buck.
Q. Dontrelle, what was going on with you early? You looked like you were struggling a little bit. You went high in your pitch count very early.
DONTRELLE WILLIS: I just didn't do anything right today. I mean, just one of those games where you just tip your hat to the other opposing team. They did a great job of just having a good approach against me. And when I needed to throw strikes and just let them put the ball in play, I wasn't able to do that today.
I just found myself in deep counts often, and when you're in deep counts, the hitter's the aggressor. So, again, I just didn't do anything right.
Q. Dontrelle, how bad do you feel about this? Because you were so excited about this and that extra adrenalin. How much did that affect what happened today?
DONTRELLE WILLIS: I was definitely ready to go out there and play. There's no excuse about that. But I feel bad whenever we lose regardless of it's in a USA uniform or a Marlins uniform.
I put my heart and soul into every game I get a chance to play. So when we don't go out there and be successful as a team, it definitely hurts.
But again, tomorrow's another day. I'll walk out here with my head up high knowing I did the best I could, but they were just a better team today.
Q. Dontrelle, what's the feeling in the clubhouse right now after losing today?
DONTRELLE WILLIS: It's tough, man. It's definitely tough. But again, we're all professionals. I see a glance of hope between all of us because we fought hard today. We came back from a deep deficit today, and we gave it our best shot.
But again, we know that we have to come back tomorrow and work out and face a South African team that's going to look to try to knock us off like Canada did today. We know tomorrow's another day. I think we're looking forward to getting back on the field.
THE MODERATOR: Anybody else? Thank you.

End of FastScripts...

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