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March 10, 2006

Dickie Gonzalez

Jose Oquendo

Bernie Williams


THE MODERATOR: We are continuing with the second part of our press conference this evening for the Puerto Rico team. We have with us this evening Bernie Williams, the Dickie Gonzalez and manager Jose Cheito Oquendo. Please give us your opinion of the game this evening and then we'll open the floor for questions.
JOSE OQUENDO: It was a world game play. It was a good job for Dickie Gonzales, who came out aggressive in the strike zone, throwing strikes, keeping the ball down, moving in and out. The guys came out running the bases and also swinging the bat. It was working, and I hope it continues for the second round.
Q. This question is for the manager, Manager Oquendo. First and foremost, I would like to congratulate you and also congratulate your entire team. The decision you made to sit out Javy (Lopez) during the first inning, I would like to ask if that is due to some type of health condition or injury, and why the decision to replace him with the other player? Why was the decision made?
JOSE OQUENDO: Javy is fine. My decision to give him one at-bat, we made that decision early before we started the game. My idea about giving him one at-bat, a lot of people came out to see him, and also I think Cuba, it meant a lot to Eduardo Paret to see him at bat, he's one of the guys who had the fewest at-bats on the team.
Q. This question is for Bernie. I know that throughout your career you have had a lot of wonderful hits. I'd like to find out more about the home run that you hit during the second inning because basically it was that home run that triggered everything that began out of the excitement in this game. I would also like your take on that, as well, Dickie, on your other performances.
BERNIE WILLIAMS: Most definitely this home run that I hit was a very important -- it was a milestone in my career. I felt to a certain extent that I was actually playing a very important series. I felt that I was playing the World Series in the month of March, if you will. This game was packed with emotion and sentimental value.
My mother was here and my uncle was here, as well, watching me play, and they had not watched me play for a very long time. I was able to put my best foot forward during this match. I was lucky to have hit that home run, and it was a wonderful experience.
DICKIE GONZALEZ: I would like to say that I feel very, very proud. I feel very proud to represent Puerto Rico at this competition, and I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Cheito for having allowed me to pitch in this game. This really was a wonderful performance that we will be able to carry out, and we hope that we will continue with this very same momentum during the second round of this tournament. It was wonderful to be here in Puerto Rico and to see all of the fans, the numerous, countless fans that were here supporting us, as they also do in the United States. I am simply delighted and I feel very pleased.
Q. This question is for Bernie and Jose. You both know the Dominican team very well, the talent on that team. What challenges do they present for you in your next game?
JOSE OQUENDO: The Dominican team, we know that team quite well, and we are also quite aware of the fact that it's a very strong team, as well. Basically speaking, I feel that we have to perform at the very same level as we have here. We have to bat -- that team has wonderful players from the first batter all the way up to the 9th. They have a team that is comprised of high-quality players, and I feel that we have to pitch the same way that we did during this series here. We have to use every maneuver that we did, as well. I actually spoke with him already and he told me that he was on his way for the next round.
BERNIE WILLIAMS: Obviously it's going to be a huge challenge for us. They have a very strong lineup and we know that they're going to score the runs. We're going to have to match them up and play some good defense. You know, they look very strong on paper, but they've got to go out there and play the game, and so do we. We're ready for them.
Q. This question is for Dickie. We do not have that much information regarding the Cuban team nor the Cuban players. I would like to find out if you were provided with any type of ideas or advice in terms of how you were going to be pitching and how the Cuban players were going to be batting for those pitchers.
DICKIE GONZALEZ: Yes, actually I got together with Ivan (Rodriguez) and (Yadier) Molina and (Carlos) Arroyo, and because as you said, we didn't have any information regarding them, we were told, basically decided and hoped what pitches were the ones that were going to be working, and we used those pitches and they worked. They were doing what they were supposed to be doing. I would also like to say that the pitchers came before me and after me also did an exemplary job.
Q. First of all, I would like to congratulate each and every one of you, and I would like to find out your own personal opinions that you have regarding the Cuban team. Yes, indeed, the ice has now been broken and we were very concerned about this particular game, and this game is now over. I would like to know what is your take, your opinion regarding this?
JOSE OQUENDO: The Cuban team I believe has a lot of talented players. Some of them are on the older side, but that notwithstanding, they are still rather dangerous and they played rather well with the bats. I think that tonight there were some pitches that were actually mistakes. Some had to do with the highballs in the specific strike zones, and I still believe that these players have a very bright future ahead of them, and the Cuban team has many players which could be part of the Major League Baseball players, and I also believe that the Puerto Rican team is also quite strong and quite talented.
BERNIE WILLIAMS: What I believe regarding the Cuban team is simply that they had a bad night tonight, but I am not going to allow the results that we had here today -- I am not going to let that lead me in any other way whatsoever. I believe that the Cuban team might be using this to try to assess what or to study what happened here tonight, and they're going to be using it as that.
I believe, also, that they're going to be using that -- again, I'm not going to let the results here tonight guide me in any way. I'm still going to be ready on the offensive. We have to remember that the Cuban team is aggressive and they are not going to allow the defeat here tonight to intimidate them at all.
DICKIE GONZALEZ: I'm going to echo what Cheito and Bernie said. The Cuban team is a team that is quite prepared and quite aggressive and they're ready to win. They have high quality baseball players, and I believe that I'm going to echo again what Bernie said previously. I'm not going to allow this to guide me in any way, shape or fashion for the next round. It's a team that we do have to bear in mind.
Q. This question is for Jose. You'll be playing Cuba again on Wednesday night. What kind of ramification do you expect, if any at all, from a hit batter with two outs in the last inning?
JOSE OQUENDO: That's part of the game, what happened today. I don't think Itchy was trying to hit the batter, he was more trying to go in and out just like we did all game with Dickie Gonzalez. He was pitching in and out and keeping batters at bat. I don't think it was on purpose. Right now we can't worry about Cuba now, it's over, and we've got to worry about Santa Domingo who's coming up next.
Q. Bernie, you've truly had an unbelievable first round. Interesting, your current team has a different lead-off hitter in mind. You've risen to the occasion hitting first. Are you telling your current team and their owner that Bernie has a lot of baseball left in him?
BERNIE WILLIAMS: Well, I think they knew that when they signed me for another year. I'm just taking this as it comes. It's great preparation, first and foremost, and it's just a great feeling to be here.
I haven't really led off in a long time, but once you hit your first at-bat, then everything comes, you just go to bat. You can hit with men in scoring position or trying to get on base or doing whatever. We have enough power in our lineup that it doesn't really matter where you hit, as long as you get your at-bats.

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