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March 7, 2009

Frederich Cepeda

Yulieski Gourriel

Higinio Velez


Q. Do you feel pressed as sub-champions?
HIGINIO VELEZ: No, we will always just go out onto the field. We will play and have a good show. Although we're sub-champions right now, that doesn't mean we have additional pressure. This is a new game; this is a new show. We're trying to do our best.

Q. Good morning. The Cuban team is very well known because of your kindness three years ago. Do you have any idea of what your lineup will be like?
HIGINIO VELEZ: No, because I still don't know who the contrary pitchers will be. I don't know if they're lefties or righties, so this is why we haven't been able to design our lineups, and we want to watch the video. We want to watch the South African video to learn how many lefties they have, and once we get our information, we'll decide on our lineup.

Q. What do you think about the Mexican team, and how were you received in Puebla?
HIGINIO VELEZ: Well, once more, the people of Mexico have shared their thoughts with the people of Cuba. We feel very happy with the amount of details we've received in Puebla. We were received with open arms by the Puebla Pirates. Expectation-wise, yes, we would have liked to be here four or five days ago, but things weren't ready. Yes, the terrain is different, the surface is different, but in spite of this, everything else has fallen into place as expected.
We do know the Mexican team. We've met them before, and the brotherhood between the Mexican people and Cuba is evident. In Puebla we felt right at home, and every time we speak to the Mexican people, we feel at home. So we haven't even felt nostalgia because Mexico has been our second home.

Q. Now, you've been playing second base or third base. Do you feel pressure in different bases?
YULIESKI GOURRIEL: I don't feel any pressure because I have played third base in Cuba. I began playing second base, so I'm ready to play either base for Higinio Velez.

Q. The second round means that you'd be playing Korea and Japan, and is Cuba trying to polish that ill feeling because you lost a few years ago?
FREDERICH CEPEDA: We're definitely ready to face them.

Q. You were talking about the brotherhood between Mexico and Cuba. Everyone wants to see the game between Mexico and Cuba. What will that game be like?
HIGINIO VELEZ: Well, for us to get to that game, on top of feeling a huge amount of brotherhood, it will still be a life-and-death game because we will be playing against each other. Yet it will be very important for many people; Cuba and Mexico are the favorite teams. Yet it's a sport, typical sport, baseball is atypical because any team can win, any team can make it to the championship. Both teams will fulfill the expectations, and everyone thinks that should be the next game. Cuba has to beat South Africa and Mexico has to beat Australia.

Q. Now, what do you know about the Mexican team? What have you found out about the national team? What do you have in store to be able to face them and to beat them because Mexico is playing in their own home town?
HIGINIO VELEZ: Well, we haven't seen that team play too much, at least the one that will be here. We've seen them play in other areas. They've got great pitching, yet we have the same features, and so whoever plays the best at that time will be the winner.

Q. Now, we know that Cuba is the one that has the best preparation. You've had continuous rhythm. Is that due to the preseason training and is this an advantage?
HIGINIO VELEZ: Well, yes, it can be an advantage. Many, many teams have not started their preseasons. They've only been in training for one month, so that is an advantage.
Another advantage is that we've been a team for a very, very long time, and there are other teams that have just become a team recently, and that also has an impact.

Q. Going back to the lineups, Cuba's training, now, what's happened?
HIGINIO VELEZ: We have many, many players in the preseason. I haven't had anyone in mind to line them up yet.

Q. This is your second experience playing a World Series, and you're actually renewed. You've got a great lineup now.
HIGINIO VELEZ: The quality of our team players is very high quality. The other teams have a stable lineup. In our teams, we've had players that have an extraordinary game. Now, lineup won't be made up only taking into account experienced players because we have good rookies, rookies that are ready to go out and ready to play and ready to show what they have.

Q. Mexico scored many runs during your pre-training. Are you worried about their offense?
HIGINIO VELEZ: Well, everyone worries us. Right now Mexico is not in our mindset. Our mind is against South Africa, and that's what we're doing. You can't underestimate anyone anyway.
Of course Mexico worries us because they're a quality team. They've got good hitters, we know the players, we follow the Mexican Championship closely, and when you face a quality rival, you can't worry about it, you've got to act. And if Mexico makes it to play, we'll be doing our best, but right now we're thinking about South Africa only, and we don't underestimate anyone.

Q. Is one of your worries pitching because balls fly high?
HIGINIO VELEZ: No, actually balls fly high for everyone. If other people have hitters, we have hitters, too, and that's something everyone has to be worried about.

Q. Higinio, during the first season you said that Cuba wasn't bringing names at that time; they were bringing in men. Now, what will Cuba's motto be for this game?
HIGINIO VELEZ: Well, that'll be a surprise (laughter).

Q. The Cuban team is a winning team; they've even won 100-some number of games the last century, yet they lost during the Olympics. Are you arriving as a wounded team, and will this make you more dangerous? The second question, have you considered sending any star to the bench, and does that worry you? Will sent Michelita to the bench?
HIGINIO VELEZ: Why would I? Would you send Michelita to the bench? Some of the key players, without saying any names, we'll have to sit them. We'll have to bench them. A manager that has a team like mine with star figures, and many of them started as being men, without names, but now they're names and men, as well. A team leader that has that possibility of sitting stars, well, that means that if you need to send a starter to the bench you've got a better player, and that is a concern.
I haven't thought about who I'd send out. I haven't even gotten to that point.
Q. Can you say that one of the best young talents that you've brought is Chapman?
HIGINIO VELEZ: He's definitely an ace who pitches at over 100 miles, and he should be one of our team openers.

Q. Can you speak about Alfredo Despaigne?
HIGINIO VELEZ: Well, you've seen him. As a player he's only been two years in the national team, and he's rising. He's definitely growing. He's got lots of good things going for him, and he's definitely someone worth following.

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