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March 17, 2006

Manny Acta

Alberto Castillo

David Ortiz

Miguel Tejada


THE MODERATOR: Welcome to the press conference with Team Dominican Republic. The team will be speaking English and Spanish for the media people and the sound bytes.
Q. During the previous press conference that we had with the Cuban manager, he said that there was a difference between the Cuban team players and major league players, and the difference was that between Cuban players and Major League players is that there are no names, they are men and that they defend their homeland and their flag and that others defend the quality of the game. What can you say about the difference that might exist between your team and the Cuban team?
DAVID ORTIZ: The Cuban guys, we were talking today during practice with our manager, Manny, and he was telling us that we've got to play the game the way it's supposed to be against those guys, and it's because those guys, they're not facing the same situation that we are, or they don't have the same possibility that we have just because the situation in their country.
But they are the same quality type of players that we are, and you've got to respect that and you've got to play the game the way it's supposed to be played out there.
Q. Manager Acta, could you tell us tell us what the situation is with Francisco Cordero and Damaso Marte?
MANNY ACTA: The situation is we're contemplating substituting Marte with Francisco Cordero, but we're going to keep Marte on the roster. He's recovering from a sore arm, and Cordero won't be able to participate. We had agreed for him to participate with us, he was here to participate with us, but unfortunately he's not going to be able to because I guess he's not going to be insured, and if you're not insured to participate in the tournament, you can't participate.
But on the other hand, we were not putting all our eggs in Cordero's basket anyway because Cordero is not in top shape, and these guys got us over here and they've been pitching the whole spring, and still, we were going to go to one of those guys if the game was on the line.
Q. This is for David and Miguel. I was wondering if you guys could comment on just the talent level of baseball around the world when we're seeing you at a tournament people thought the U.S. could win, they're not even here, now it's a guarantee a Latin American or Asian team will win.
DAVID ORTIZ: Well, you guys already have seen that baseball is not only -- it's not only a game that you get good players only in Latin America or United States; you can go all the way around the world and you can find some good players. The series that we had down in Puerto Rico, I mean, everybody knows that we have some good here on our team, but Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Cuba, all of them have some great pitching.
Like they always say, good pitching can stop good hitting. That's basically the situation that we faced down there. We faced I would say the best pitching in the whole series. You guys saw the score down there; it wasn't the 17-0 score down there. I don't think you guys get to see that, and pretty much the reason why is we faced some quality pitching down there.
Q. This is a question that I address to the four people sitting up front but mainly to Manager Manny Acta. During the previous press conference that we had with the Cuban manager, I said something that is quite clear, and it is no secret; I said that maybe you and the other teams, some of the other teams, were better prepared and better trained or that they were better prepared and better trained, the Cubans, because you were doing spring training and you were tired and you did not have the time to prepare for this Classic like the Cubans did. Maybe that was an advantage that worked in favor of Cuba. He admittedly said yes. He said this might be a disadvantage for all the other teams; not for Cuba, that you were not up to 100 percent physical condition because you have not had the time because you have devoted your time to spring training and other workouts. Can you tell us something about this? Have you discussed this amongst yourselves? It is not something that we want you to consider as an excuse or that we are considering as an excuse, but it is a reality. What can you say about that?
MANNY ACTA: He's right when he's talking about being together as a team for a longer period of time. But not when it comes down to preparation and training because these guys are consummate professionals that they train and prepare themselves well. But baseball is a team game, and as a team, yes, when you're together as a team for years as they have been, obviously they know each other. The players know how each other play, and even when you put the set-up signs, they probably have the same signs for five or ten years. We have to get these guys for eight weeks or so and they have to learn a new set of signs that I put on for them after they have been in spring training learning their own signs. It is better but not because of the training and preparation. And the other thing that goes all the way back to the first question, I don't want the word "patriotism" being brought up over here because of these guys being professional and other teams are not because when you have $100 million in the bank and a contract and you leave everything and take a chance and come over here and play for your country, if that isn't patriotism, I don't know what it is. I don't want that word being brought up about these guys here.
Q. For Miguel and David, just what was your reaction when you found out that the U.S. lost last night and wouldn't be here?
MIGUEL TEJADA: I mean, we were just surprised like everybody. I think the whole world is surprised to see that USA lost. I mean, everybody knew that they had a good team. Like we talked about before, it's not about the name; it's about how you play on the field. The other two teams played better and that's why they're here.
For me, I would be real happy if I saw the U.S. here in the last four teams because it's going to be great, because we're in the USA here, because they're a good team and we're here, and I think the whole world wants to see the USA and the Dominican Republic the last two teams playing.?
Q. I wonder if each of the players could identify the Cuban player who has impressed them the most, and how many of the Cuban players do you think could play effectively in the major leagues?
ALBERTO CASTILLO: Well, pretty much all of them (laughter). I mean, the Cuban players, they grow up since they're little babies playing baseball. Actually they play it for 12 months. Coming back to the question from last time, who's better and who's not because they play year-round, they should win all the games by ten runs but they didn't. Why? Because they play the whole year-round.
But they've got some good quality players, and you see how that's been effective for the last five years. Right now there are three or four guys that should be in the big leagues. I'll reserve the names, but they're good over there. This is not the Pan Am Games or national competition. This is the real game right here.
I'm looking forward to participating in one game if the manager gives me the chance tomorrow (laughter). I never had a chance to catch behind a Cuban player, so I'm looking forward to enjoying the game, and between the two lines, we will see who's going to be the best.
MIGUEL TEJADA: About the Cuban team, they all can be in the major leagues, they all can be good players in the major leagues. The one thing is the major leagues is not easy. Being in the big leagues for 10 or 12 years, that's the hard part. Being in the major leagues, a lot of players can be in the major leagues. Not everybody can be there for a long time, and that's the difference. They can be or they cannot. That's what I have to say about the Cuban team. They all can be big league players. Being consistent, that's the hard part.
DAVID ORTIZ: They're good (laughter). They can play in the big league level any time. But like my man Miguel says, maintaining yourself in the big league, that's the main thing. It's hard to play at this level consistently through the years. These guys, it takes them a minute to be a Major League Baseball player, but by the time they come from Cuba they're already 30 or 35 years old. That might be a reason why they don't play longer. But the way they play the game is unbelievable. You've got a guy, the second baseman, (Yulieski) Gourriel, outstanding player, very outstanding player. They just won't let him come out of the room at any time. You know why.
And the catcher, he looks like a shortstop behind the plate. Man, that guy gets everything back there. You don't get too many catchers like that in this league, or I don't see them. That tells you the quality that they have, and they can be in the league at any time.
Q. I'd like to ask the three players, how do you think about this match-up system at the semi-final? Fortunately, or accidentally, our semi-final will be matched up in between Asian teams, so at the semi-final, how do you think -- should it be matched up in cross? So for example, Dominican and Japan, like that? How do you think about that?
ALBERTO CASTILLO: To answer the question what you were asking, I don't see why we play Cuba tomorrow. Whoever designed this for us to play Cuba tomorrow had a big headache, I guess, because I don't see a reason why we're facing Cuba tomorrow. It would be better if we faced Korea or Japan. It would be more interesting. We just came from Puerto Rico playing Cuba, so I don't see why we're playing Cuba tomorrow. Once again, we were looking forward to playing some other team, but we're just players. We play and we do what they tell us to do.
DAVID ORTIZ: I guess they just coordinate it the way they do during the season, you know. At the end two teams from the American League and two teams from the National League play against each other, and whoever wins in the American League goes and plays whoever wins in the National League. I guess that's the way they're doing it.
But we played Cuba already, and we want to face something different.
MIGUEL TEJADA: I mean, I don't want to pay attention to the rules. I just want to play somebody and beat them. I don't care, I just want to be the winner. Whoever we play tomorrow and the next day, we've got to play. We've got to play Japan, we've got to play Korea or we've got to play Cuba, we've just got to win. That's the thing; I just want to play somebody.

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