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March 8, 2006

Carlos Beltran

Luis Matos

Jose Oquendo

Joel Pineiro

Ivan Rodriguez


THE MODERATOR: Good evening. We're going to begin the round of questions for the Puerto Rico team. First we would like to listen to what Mr. Oquendo has to say about the game tonight, and with us tonight with Mr. Oquendo is Ivan Rodriguez and Joel Pineiro.
JOSE OQUENDO: Today was a good game. The guys came out ready to play. We made a lot of adjustments today. We didn't swing at a lot of first pitches today. We were more selective with the pitches, and they also gave us a chance to run. The guys, we were aggressive on the bases.
Q. (Question for Jose Oquendo.)
JOSE OQUENDO: I said before, we have a team who can play a different type of game. We can run or we can play the little game. Today we had more chances to play that kind of game so we took advantage of it.
Q. (Question for Ivan Rodriguez.)
IVAN RODRIGUEZ: The pitching staff is doing a great job. Our philosophy is so long as they throw strikes and put the ball in play, we're going to be fine. They've been doing it for these two games, and that's why we got 2-0. As long as the pitching staff keeps doing what we're doing, we're going to be fine. Pitching staff is very strong right now, and we're going to be fine for Cuba on Friday.
Q. Ivan, throughout your career I'm sure you've batted countless, numerous home runs. I would like you to tell me about the feeling. I would imagine that the feeling must be a sensational fabulous feeling. I imagine this because I have never myself batted a home run in such a situation, and even more so since you are batting for your own national team; what is your take on that situation?
IVAN RODRIGUEZ: It feels very good. I mean, when you're playing in front of your home town, Puerto Rico, and wearing the Puerto Rican uniform and perform in a winning way the way we did today, having two hits with a home run and an RBI is a very nice feeling.
I think the best thing about it is the 2-0 and we are headed for the second round, and I think we're going to be ready for it.
Q. Can you give us a little idea of what your message was to the team when you talked to them a couple days ago?
IVAN RODRIGUEZ: The message that I sent to my teammates was keep them very positive, just play the game hard, reminding them that we play for our country and we wear the Puerto Rican uniform, and that's something very special for myself and I think for my teammates.
We've been doing it, and we're playing great baseball. I think Cheito and the coaching staff are doing a great job with us. They're allowing everybody to participate in the tournament, and I think everybody is happy. The thing is we're 2-0 and we've got one more this round and we'll get ready for the next one.
Q. The question is for Joel Pineiro, I'd like you to tell me the feelings and the emotions you were feeling here in Puerto Rico, and also from a technical standpoint, how would you evaluate the work and your performance that you did here up to the point in time that there were a couple of issues that arose during the game? Could you provide us your take on that?
JOEL PINEIRO: It made it a lot easier for me having Pudge, Ivan Rodriguez, behind the plate. Whatever he called I was going to throw up there. The feeling was great representing Puerto Rico and just for me, for the fans and for the team. Getting off to a good start the first four innings was great and the bullpen did a great job.
Q. There was a lot of pressure and a lot of pressure and a lot of responsibility on you first of all because once we won the first game, it was very important to see if you were going to be able to make it to the sound round. And even more so, having Cuba as a rival in this game, the other question I have for Cheito, I would like an update on Carlos Delgado and is it something that's on a day-to-day basis but at least provide us an update on it.
JOEL PINEIRO: Like I said before, there was no pressure on me any game. The United States major leagues or here, it's important for me, I want to throw eight, nine innings every time I'm out there, maintain my focus and throw strikes and get a lot of outs early.
Like I said before, having Pudge back there made it a lot easier for me.
JOSE OQUENDO: Delgado should be a day-to-day basis. He's going to get treatment tomorrow, come out early and get treatment. I think my advice would be to wait until the second round and skip the Cuban game. I think we've got enough guys to back that up.
Q. Carlos, I would like to know how much of the pressure you were able to get rid of with that home run?
CARLOS BELTRAN: Well, I mean, yesterday my first at-bat I felt like I had never played baseball before in my life. I was very happy, very sad playing in front of my fans. This is the first time that I've been able to represent my country in an event like this one.
And today my first at-bat I was able to get a hit, and after that I felt settled down. When I hit the home run, I felt very happy because every time you contribute to help the team win, it feels good.
Q. This question is for the both of you, for Louis and Carlos. I would like you to speak about how you feel playing here in Puerto Rico at this level and how that is different from the way that you feel when you are playing in the United States when you are playing at a major league level.
LUIS MATOS: The feeling that I have, it's actually very different when you are playing here for your own country and you're wearing the shirt, the tee shirt for your own country. What I'm trying to say here, it doesn't necessarily mean when I'm playing for the Orioles that I don't put as much effort into playing as I do here, but rather when you are here in your home country in your homeland in Puerto Rico, it is something different when you see the fans, when you're hearing your own homeland and your own team, you give it a little bit more oomph because you're in your homeland.
CARLOS BELTRAN: Well, I play for the New York Mets. It doesn't mean that when I play for the Mets I don't put the same effort as when I'm playing for Puerto Rico, I just like to give my best day in and day out. But this event is special because it's given us the opportunity to represent our country.
Playing here and playing in the U.S. are kind of the same because when you do well, the fans let you know and when you do bad they also let you know. That's part of the game; you have to be aware of that. Representing my country is something that I never did before in my life. Every time you play in Puerto Rico, you always want to do well, you want to do the best.
Q. (Question for Luis Matos.)
LUIS MATOS: With regard to the question about the ball and so forth, I think that all throughout the years, we may sometimes make some mistakes, but we cannot allow that to jeopardize or hamper our confidence at all. At all times what we have to do is put our best foot forward and do everything possible. It also did allow me to help with the two runs with my team and so forth.
Now, with regard to the question that you asked me about the game with Cuba and what I thought and what I felt about that, I think that we have to put all of our effort into that match with Cuba, against Cuba, and we have to do our very best, our utmost, in order to make it into the second round.
Q. Prior to your game, the game between the United States and Canada was held. What is your opinion regarding that game?
CARLOS BELTRAN: Well, as I always say, you can't ever say that you have small enemies at all because at no moment in time are you able to trust anyone. Same thing goes with the game yesterday that we played with Panama; a lot of people thought that beating them and winning them was going to be quite an easy task and it wasn't so.
Along the same lines it was a little bit tight with the game we had here tonight, as well, and with regard to the United States, they have a great, wonderful team, and it doesn't necessarily mean that they are out of the running at all because of that. They simply have to be able to qualify for the other games as well as we do. Thank goodness we have already qualified for them, as well.
LUIS MATOS: The same goes with the World Series. There are many, many stars on these several teams for this tournament. My take on it is that we have to play it game by game.
All of a sudden one day you can have a bad game. You never really know. As far as I'm concerned, I'm going to be taking it one step at a time, game per game, and see if we make it all the way to San Diego.

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