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March 8, 2006

Yulieski Gourriel

Eduardo Paret

Rudy Reyes

Higinio Velez


THE MODERATOR: Good evening. We're going to open the floor now for media questions.
Q. Good afternoon. This question is for Yulieski Gourriel. Without a doubt, I believe that you were the driving force behind this match-up. This was the very first success. You are quite experienced with major league pitchers, and it goes without saying that winning this tournament, this championship, is something also very, very different. I would like to know what you feel in this regard.
YULIESKI GOURRIEL: I was simply delighted and I'm also very proud of the rest of my team members and my team players. This very first match, as you can say, it was the one that concerned us the most, more than all of them, and it was a way, if you will, of breaking the ice. It was a pleasure to have all of the other major league pitchers, as well, and this was something I believe has helped us to become more relaxed for the future matches in this game.
Q. This question is for Eduardo Paret. I would like to find out what the feeling is in this certain specific environment. Without a doubt, you were the most valuable player for the Cuban team in 2006. You participated in several of these tournaments in the Central American Games, Pan American Games and in the Olympics. What I would like to find out, also, what is the feeling that you see as the team, what kind of support you are receiving at this juncture?
EDUARDO PARET: I believe that the environment that we have here at this championship is actually quite good. When we saw the good as sportsmanship yesterday in the match between Puerto Rico and Panama, and as you can say, this is only the very first game for us.
You also have to bear in mind that this is a short series. It's a very short game, and this is without a doubt a very important one for us.
Q. Congratulations, Yulieski. You were one of the major key players in this victory. Congratulations again. I would like for you to talk about the family aspects and that feeling with regard to this championship.
YULIESKI GOURRIEL: Yes, it is actually an honor to be considered that.
I'd like to talk to you about my family. As you may know, this is part of a family tradition, pitching is. My father was a pitcher for the national team, and my brother is also a pitcher on the Cuban team, as well. I would like to state here that my father has been the driving force in my career and has been the key element to my success as a pitcher.
Q. This question is for Higinio Velez. I would like to -- I had the opportunity here to mention with regard to the Olympics in Athens that were held, you played a very important pivotal role there. I would like to find out what your experience and your opinion is in this particular competition. What is your take on all this?
HIGINIO VELEZ: I have to stay that we have participated in the World Baseball Series, we have participated in the Olympics, and we did foresee that this was going to be a very challenging event, very challenging championship. Winning this match for us is of paramount importance. It will be a driving force for us to our success.
I would like to say this is the very first time that major league players are for the very first time representing their own native countries in such a tournament of this nature. As I said, we have participated in several international events, in the Olympics, and we knew beforehand that this was not going to be easy, it was not going to be easy at all.
The matches with Panama, the matches with the Netherlands, with Puerto Rico, we know they will be challenging, and my players and I, we are prepared physically, emotionally and psychologically for this, and I hope that my players and my guys, that you will still continue to enjoy the matches that they will be offering you.
Q. For Rudy Reyes do you feel any pressure because you were asked to take over the batting position of another player?
RUDY REYES: As I stated before, as one of my team players said previously, we are prepared, we are prepared psychologically and spiritually for this match, for this championship, and taking over that position was something that anybody, any of my other team players would have done in my position. As I said before, we are all prepared, psychologically and physically for this.
Q. Now that you have completed the very first match, the next match that you have is with the Netherlands. What can you tell us about that team, and what are your expectations vis-a-vis that game?
HIGINIO VELEZ: I would like to say that this specific tournament is quite different from the other tournaments that we have participated inasmuch as this particular championship, this tournament, has the very best players in the entire world. And there are also some specific criteria that are different such as the limits in the pitching. I understand that it's something very good for my players, but this is something that distinguishes this specifically.
Also, with regard to the other question that you asked, it is very difficult for me to give you my opinion or my take on what I foresee for the Netherlands team because unlike the other games here, all of the teams have never been comprised before. All of the teams such as the Netherlands or Puerto Rico, how we would have to assess and evaluate them, for example, we have not seen the Netherlands play, so it's difficult for me to even tell you what I foresee happening.
What I can tell you is that the teams that are here are very gifted and very talented teams, as those that we have seen in the World Series and the championships and the Olympics.
I would like to dedicate this championship, this game that we have, to all women because as you know, from the bottom of my heart, today, March the 8th, is International Women's Day (applause).
Q. Yulieski, this game was on television and millions of people who had never seen you play had the opportunity to see you play, and you played a fantastic game. How does that make you feel, that they now know what kind of player you are?
YULIESKI GOURRIEL: First and foremost, as far as I'm concerned, I'm very, very happy. We played a very, very good match. What is most important more than anything is the fact that my team won, and also the fact that so many foreign TV broadcasters were present and here today.
It was a very good opportunity for everybody in the world to see that Cuban baseball players play well anywhere in the world and at any level.

End of FastScripts...

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