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October 21, 1997

Bip Roberts

Omar Vizquel


Q. Omar, is Matt the best third baseman you've played with defensively and if so, what makes him that, is it his hands, his range or what?

OMAR VIZQUEL: Yes, I've been in the Big Leagues for nine years now, and Matt is the best I've ever seen. Thome came up in the beginning of '90, '93, we started working together a little bit, and he was kind of slow on his feet, but he could play third base. But Matt, he's just like another shortstop out there. He's so much help for me. He goes either side as well as the shortstop. So he covers a lot of ground.

Q. Omar, you've gotten the chance to see Charles Johnson play defense, can you give me your impressions and what stands out the most?

OMAR VIZQUEL: Only for two games. I seen him playing on the field. Obviously I seen on TV a few times. But he reminded me of a young Sandy Alomar, the same type of player, big, and can move quick for the size of the catcher that he is. And obviously he's healthy and he throws really hard to the bases, so I think it's a challenge for us to beat tonight and get on base, and try to get stolen bases.

Q. Would you tell us in Spanish how the cold weather is going to effect the game?

OMAR VIZQUEL: Well, players always like to play in warm weather, of course. The cold weather is something that we have to face in the beginning of the season and late in the playoff and in the World Series. So it's going to be a little bit of advantage for us, for the Cleveland players who play in this type of weather, because we're used to playing in the beginning of the season with this situation. But I think you really have to concentrate and try to hit the ball right on the fat part of the bat and make good contact. And with the wind, I don't know. I guess Bip and I have no problem hitting against the wind, because we're power hitters (laughter.)

Q. Bip, if Tony Gwynn were here and you were hanging out in the dugout, what would you say your baseball cards were worth now?

BIP ROBERTS: Maybe five cents, after the playoffs it's going up a penny. But if he was here, he'd probably say it was still worth four cents.

Q. For Omar, please describe the difference in the comfort level being down 0-2 against Atlanta and coming home, and now you're even coming home against Florida?

OMAR VIZQUEL: It makes a big difference, because now the series is even, and just like the other two series before, we're coming back home with the series even. So it's good to be back where we play good, and our fans, and we know they're going to support us through the whole game. It's going to be tough for the Florida players to play here. First they haven't been here before, and second I think the fans are going to make a lot of noise for them, so it's going to make it tough.

Q. Bip, is your father here tonight and if he is, is this his first trip to Jacobs Field and how excited are you?

BIP ROBERTS: Yeah, he's here. He was here for the Yankees series, that was his first time at the Jake. And he's really enjoying himself. And I'm just so happy that he is here. He's really made it very special for me. After coming from such a far away -- as far as he's been and a lot of things that he's been through, it's just a special moment for us right now. And we're going to enjoy it as much as possible. I think it could be the biggest tribute to him I could ever give him if we win.

Q. Bip, as often as you've done it, are you comfortable now going from second base to left field in the series?

BIP ROBERTS: I'm comfortable, but there are things that I have to work on each day that I go out there. I have to work on my ground balls and double plays, have to work with Omar to make sure I know where he's going to throw it. Omar's a magician, it may come from anywhere and I have to be there. In outfield I have to work on not drifting to fly balls. Sometimes I don't know where the wall is. If I drift I have a tough time out there. I get out there and work hard to get to the wall and find it and are comfortable. Each day, no matter where I'm playing, I have to be comfortable.

Q. Do you find this a particularly tough left field to play? I think you've mentioned that the lights seem to be a problem?

BIP ROBERTS: It is a little. Brian Giles has an easy time with it, and for some reason I have a tougher time. I think it's the way the lights are situated up there, instead of being long, they're tall. And each line drive goes right up into the lights on me, especially when I move to my left. So I'm going to have to figure out a way to stand out there without standing in the lights.

Q. I'm sure you have Renteria, a lot, do you see some things that are comparable to you in the future?

OMAR VIZQUEL: I think he'll be way better than me when I was 22 years old. I don't think I hit .280 in the Big Leagues. And as young as he is, right now, he has accomplished a lot of things for that team. He played some great defense for them. And also seems to handle the bat pretty well. As long as he matures as a player he's going to get better.

Q. Bip, just wondering how your thumb feels? It was hurt and how will the weather, the cold weather affect that?

BIP ROBERTS: My thumb feels fine. It's the thumb that I had total reconstruction on a couple of years ago, so I battled back from that the last few years. I think the cold will affect all of us, as far as our hands are concerned. I don't think it will affect me any differently than anybody else. Like Omar said if we can get the fat part of the bat on the ball, we won't feel it. If we catch it on the end or near the handle, anybody will feel it.

Q. How big a factor is it for you the fact that you've been through this for the second time? You were in the World Series in '95, this is your second, do you feel more comfortable now; is it a big factor being in the World Series for the second time?

OMAR VIZQUEL: I think it helps a lot when you have experience here. You learn to deal with all the autographs and all the reporters and all the cameras. And you have to take care of yourself and take some time off to kind of like block away everything from you. And stay focused through the whole series. Obviously if you were in the World Series before, I think it helps you out to take everything really serious, every pitch, every out counts, and I think Marquis has shown how important it is to be here before. He's having a good series, and I hope he continues to help the team the way he has.

Q. Omar, Bip just mentioned how important it is to work with you when he's at second base. On the other side, how important is it for you to have a consistent second baseman to work with you?

OMAR VIZQUEL: Well, it's really important, because I think the double play is one of the most important plays of the game, it can kill a lot of rallies. As long as you communicate with your partner around second base, it's going to make your job more easier. So we have to be able to talk and to work out a lot, something that we haven't done too much. Bip came to the team I think the last month of the season and he started playing second and left field. So we haven't been together as much as we wanted to, but when he's on the field I really enjoy talking to him, keeps things relaxed and try to make a good throw to him so he can turnover the plays.

Q. Omar, there is a really high percentage of Latin players in the World Series right now, and how important is it for us to represent our country in the World Series?

OMAR VIZQUEL: Every year there is a lot of Latin players to get the opportunities to be on different teams and different line-ups, and they have to take the best out of it. Every opportunity is good for you, and you have to take advantage of that. I think we have really good players, but you have to work really hard to earn, to be in the every day line-up, and we just hope to continue to make good Latin players.

Q. Bip, is there something about this team that distinguishes it from other teams you've been on with a lot of talent that didn't get this far?

BIP ROBERTS: The thing that stands out in my mind is the character of the players here. The majority of players here are veteran players who understand their job. And certain teams you see one or two veterans who really understand the game, but they're followed by a lot of young kids who really don't. So they have to ask a lot of questions. And in this clubhouse everybody is a leader, and if you do have a question somebody can always answer it. So you always feel when you walk into that clubhouse that it's a very positive feeling, a very positive vibe, and the chances of winning are so great in this clubhouse, because when I first got here we lost a tough game, but after the game the clubhouse was still very positive. I didn't see anybody get real down or anybody get too high. This clubhouse is very mellow, low-key, and we try to stay as neutral as possible.

End of FastScripts....

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