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March 9, 2006

Kelvim Escobar

Johan Santana

Luis Sojo


THE MODERATOR: We're joined by the Venezuela manager, Luis Sojo. We'll start with an opening statement first.
Your thoughts on the game and winning your game here tonight.
COACH LUIS SOJO: Well, we got a lot of doubts about Australia because we don't know these players. The only one we know is Nilsson, the DH, but other than that, you don't know what's going to happen with these guys because you don't know. And that's tough.
But Kelvim was unbelievable today. I mean the pitching staff, it was great in the first round. And I'm very glad.
THE MODERATOR: We'll go ahead and open it up for questions.
Q. Luis, is tonight kind of an example of how tough the Classic is going to be from this, from tonight forward and how hard fought each win is going to be?
COACH LUIS SOJO: Yeah. This is the World Baseball Classic. Nobody, I don't think my guys, they knew it was going to be tough. It don't matter who you play.
Now we move to the second round and it's going to be tough and more tough. But we're ready for it. The pitching has been great. They all want the ball. It's making it tough for me when I get to the ballpark, because I see all these guys going to my office and they all want the ball. They all want to pitch, they all want to participate. But they make it easy for me. But we got to make a decision and tonight it was the right one.
Q. Were your hitters finding it particularly difficult going from the knuckleballer to the guy throwing in the mid 90s? Were they commenting on that?
COACH LUIS SOJO: Well, I got a couple guys over there that don't like knuckleballs. And then when you play these guys, then you bring these sidearm guys that throw 94-96, it's really tough. It's not easy. When you face a guy like that. But the good thing about it is the knuckleballer, he threw a lot of balls. And we knocked them down in the third inning. And our guys make adjustments.
We got, like, 11 walks today. We only got four hits. We didn't come through when we needed to, but the most important thing is we came out with the win.
THE MODERATOR: We're joined now by tonight's starting pitcher, Kelvim Escobar and Johan Santana. We'll begin in English.
Q. For both of you, how do you feel about knowing you're going to advance to the next round? How good do you feel about that Venezuela is moving on to round two?
JOHAN SANTANA: It's a great feeling. That's what we were looking for, we finally get a chance to take care in the first round and hopefully from now on it's going to be very interesting what's going to happen in Puerto Rico.
But we're excited about it and we're looking forward to that.
KELVIM ESCOBAR: It's great. Reaching the goal that we want to when we got here. You know, advance to the second round, it makes us feel pretty good and we're ready for the challenge here.
Q. For both you guys, how much better do you think the team can play as a whole, especially the offense and how much better do you think you need to play as the competition gets better in the second round and beyond?
KELVIM ESCOBAR: I mean the second round is going to be a little tougher. We're going to face some better teams. Our offense is, it's been good. I think that they're swinging the bat very well, but at the same time you have to give credit to the pitching staff of Italy and Australia team. They did pretty good.
But the good thing is that we're pitching good and we're playing good defense. And the bottom line in this game, when you pitch good and you play good defense, you are always going to have a chance to stay in the game.
Q. This is for Kelvim, two questions: One, how are you as far as your mid-season form? How does your game right now compare to the Kelvim Escobar of July, August and September? And two, did Australia fielded well and pitched well, but do you feel like you could overpower their hitters?
KELVIM ESCOBAR: I mean, I feel good. I'm about a hundred percent. I think I threw the ball very well tonight. I just had a little problem with my mechanics like in the last couple innings, but I was still going strong. And I don't know about overpowering them. I was throwing the ball very well and keeping the ball down in the zone and changing speed. I think it made it a little tougher for the hitters. And I had a good success and it was good.

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