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March 12, 2006

Buck Martinez

Dontrelle Willis


THE MODERATOR: We'll go ahead and get started. We'll begin with USA Team manager Buck Martinez and Dontrelle Willis.
Q. Dontrelle, what did you learn from playing on the tour a couple of years ago about international play? What are you going to take into you next start against Korea tomorrow?
DONTRELLE WILLIS: Well, what I learned is, you know, the fundamentals are the same regardless if it's in the states, overseas. You have to do the little things right in the sense of throwing strikes and putting the ball in play. Getting timely hits.
I think being a young guy, I get somewhat caught up in what's going on around instead of focusing on going out there and playing my game.
So tomorrow I'm just going to try to do a little better job focusing, having the same routine as if I did in a Marlins' uniform.
Q. Are you saying that's what happened to you in the Canada game?
DONTRELLE WILLIS: This is international play. I mean, going overseas, I mean, I get a little caught up in what's going on around, and what have you, instead of going out there and having fun. You know, I mean doing what I know how to do?
Q. (Inaudible.)
DONTRELLE WILLIS: They played well. Nothing happened. I didn't get hurt or anything like that. They just did a good job, no excuse about that.
Q. For both of you, can you talk a little bit about what scouting might and been able to do against South Korea and the problems they pose both pitching and batting?
MANAGER BUCK MARTINEZ: We've had a chance to look at the South Korean team when we finish with Japan obviously.
But we have had the ability to look at some of their games on video. But we will address that more after this game. We haven't really focused on anything other than Japan right now.
Q. With that in mind, what about what the Japanese?
MANAGER BUCK MARTINEZ: We know the Japanese team are sound fundamentally. They will play for a run. They will run, especially the lead-off hitter. We all know Ichiro and what a great player he is.
Short stop and second baseman are both very good players. We know that they are much like Ichiro. They run very well. They bunt. They play hit and run, and the Japanese team in general will try to get that run whenever they can. We're going to manufacture runs. They're going to push runners ahead. They're going to try to be aggressive.
THE MODERATOR: Any additional questions?
Q. Dontrelle, how does this tournament affect you in terms of preparation for the regular season?
DONTRELLE WILLIS: Well, as far as the workout regimen, it's definitely been the same. I think the staff has done a good job of just letting us do whatever we need to do to get ready as far as the regimen.
But the focus level is definitely a little different and intensity level is a little different than it would be in a spring training game. Playing for your country is definitely a little different, but especially the workout regimen, for us to lift weights and get our running in is actually been the same. So they've done a good job of that.
Q. And Dontrelle, on the issue of familiarity, how difficult is it going against guys that you don't know at all and how do you compensate for that?
DONTRELLE WILLIS: Well, me, you know, I just have enough trouble just trying to compensate on myself, so to be totally honest. I'm a high energy guy, and I'm a young guy, and I still battle every day going out there and controlling that and trying to focus doing the job at hand.
But me, I'm not a really big scouting report guy. I just try to go out there and focus on throwing strikes and letting the game dictate itself from there.
Q. For both of you guys, what did you take out of the first round that you think applies strategically to the second round? What did you learn about this tournament that's going to help you as we move on?
MANAGER BUCK MARTINEZ: I think what we learned is the competition does have a very high level of competition. I think everybody represented them well very well. They represented themselves very well in their first round.
The intensity is a little bit greater than I expected. The quality of play is much more balanced then I think we all expected. And I think it's not unlike the process of going through a post-season. This round to me will have the intensity of an ALCS or an NLCS championship knowing that the next round is the one we want to get to. You're going to play this round with that type of focus of a league championship series.
DONTRELLE WILLIS: He took the words right out of my mouth, I'm sorry, but the intensity. You know, I mean, I definitely underestimated the intensity of each and every ballgame.
I mean, even seeing the Mexicos and the Canadas and even South Africa, how passionate they were to represent their country.
And I'm sorry to say I fell to that, but at the same time, me going on there, I felt the passion to go out there and try to do as best as I can.
Q. You saw that in Japan, too.
DONTRELLE WILLIS: Most definitely. I got a chance to go over there before. Like I said, I've got a chance to watch a couple games on TV Puerto Rico, Venezuela. It's all the same intensity level there and the passion is there. I didn't think it was going to be that great to be totally honest.
Q. As we lead up to the months before that, the one major question you were constantly asked about was the intensity level of the Americans compared to the Asian and Latin team.
MANAGER BUCK MARTINEZ: I think I can speak to that in talking with all the players, once they got to Phoenix and once they put the uniform on, there was no doubt about how much Team USA was committed to this. They have put their egos aside. They have given us everything we needed as far as cooperation and workout and work ethic, and everybody has focused on playing the best baseball they can play.
I think the one thing that was a concern is guys going out there pitching in a competitive atmosphere. I don't think that's a concern. I think this is baseball. It's not like we're asking them to do something out of the realm of what they're great at.
They compete all the time, whether it's in a spring training game, whether it's in a World Series game. They compete at the same level.
And, you know, these guys are ready to do that. They've stretched themselves out in their conditioning. They have hit, you know, more times to this point than I think they would have had they been with their respective teams. I think they're ready to play in this second round.
Q. And you'll judge where Dontrelle is in the game tomorrow?
DONTRELLE WILLIS: Well, I mean, bottom line if I'm not getting the job done, I'd take it the same way as if it's in July. If I'm not getting the job done, then it's his job to get me out of there. That's the bottom line. We're here to try to win ball games. This is not exhibition, friendship games. This is going out there to try to win the game.
Q. Buck, you said this about Peavy. You're going to stretch him out today if he's pitching well. Same thing with Dontrelle?
MANAGER BUCK MARTINEZ: Absolutely. Dontrelle is free and easy in his delivery. I think we're going to see Dontrelle pitch a good game against Korea, and I expect him to pitch much deeper in the game with much less effort because he was battling the emotions I think more than anything. He didn't make his pitches. And when he's on, he makes pitches and he can breeze through innings very quickly.
So I think one thing that is a misconception about this tournament is that because he has an 80-pitch limit that he's required to throw 80 pitches. We'd like to have him pitch five innings and use 50 pitches. That would be the ideal situation. I think that would make everybody happy.
THE MODERATOR: Any more questions?
Q. One more. Dontrelle, couple questions. You've been a World Champion, an All-Star, now playing for Team USA. Can you elaborate a little bit on the priorities and how that is?
DONTRELLE WILLIS: I've been very blessed and very fortunate in my brief career to be able to experience a lot of ups and a lot of downs. And I tell you what, this right here is something I can never dream or fathom to be able to represent my country doing anything. And being able to represent my country doing something I grew up loving is nothing better for me. So, I'm taking all this in.
I was talking to my grandma before the Canada game, and I told her for the first time in a long time I'm nervous. And I've pitched in the World Series. I've pitched in a playoff game. I've been to the big leagues at 21. And I told her for the first time I was nervous. She said, you know, Son, I'm already proud of you. I never dreamed of having this life for you. And hearing that from my grandma, she's my heart and soul. And she said no matter what, just go out there and show up and make us proud. That pretty much took the words right out of my mouth. That's awesome.
Q. On your line-up switches today, what was your thoughts?
MANAGER BUCK MARTINEZ: A little bit of everything. Johnny played on Friday. Randy's been swinging a hot bat. We got a left-hander for left-hander. Vernon Wells I think is on the verge of going off. I think Vernon is starting to see the ball well.
Anytime you can put a batting champ at the top of your order, we're in pretty good shape with Michael Young. So it was Michael's turn to play and he's at second base. We're confident that he can start things for this offense today.
THE MODERATOR: Any additional questions? Thank you.

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