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March 13, 2009

Jose Oquendo

Ivan Rodriguez

Javier Vazquez


THE MODERATOR: Pitcher Javier Vazquez is on his way.

Q. Manager Oquendo, first of all, congratulations on winning the group over in Puerto Rico. During the first round, one catcher was used per game. Are you going to do this on this round or who is going to be the catcher in tomorrow's game?
JOSE OQUENDO: Vazquez is going to be the catcher the entire game, unless something comes up and the change has to be made and that's the only way the other catcher's going to come in.
But my plan is for Ivan to be the catcher in this game, depending on the situation of the game. One of the two or many, I haven't decided who it may be.

Q. Recently the Netherlands team was here. What can you say about the Netherlands team? Perhaps a few people are familiar with it. What advice could you give them?
JOSE OQUENDO: For instance, Venezuela is going to face Holland. What advice could you give Venezuela about the pitching and batters of the Netherlands? Not the scouting report, and I shouldn't provide that, the Dutch team's pretty good, is young. They have good pitchers, they're good at defense. If you make a mistake, they're going to -- they're going to know how to act on that and you can lose that game on that mistake, because you're pretty good defensively and with your pitching.

Q. Javier, some of the challenges of facing quality hits across the United States and at a time when normally you would be building up this season now having to get big outs?
JAVIER VAZQUEZ: First of all, I never take any hitter lightly. I faced Panama in the first round, and I have a lot of respect for all the hitters. So obviously the United States have a much deeper lineup, and guys are obviously, All-Stars, most of them, careers.
So for me, even though it's spring training for us, when you're on the mound, even in spring training, you want to go out and do a good job. So my job tomorrow is to try to go out there and beat the U.S.A.

Q. How do you feel about coming back to your old home and now with all of your Puerto Rican fans supporting at Dolphins Stadium and playing where you won a World Series?
IVAN RODRIGUEZ: First of all, I feel very well. It's an honor to be here once again at Dolphins Stadium, the home of the Marlins. And, yes, that's what I was telling my colleagues, my teammates. Lots of good things happened in the year 2003 during the season and after the season. And coming back here again an event like this wearing the uniform of Puerto Rico, all of this fills me with lots of pride and happiness. And I hope, God willing, that I'm able to perform well.

Q. A lot of the players have said that this is sort of like a World Series but in large. Do you guys feel a sense of more energy playing for your country, a greater sense of pride?
IVAN RODRIGUEZ: I think so. I think right now this is baseball. It wasn't the same as the last time. The last time for us it was some guys that played five innings and then guys came and replaced the players.
But as of right now, this year, everybody's focused on winning the ball game. We play like that. I mean, our team is ready to win. So our team, we look forward to it and take one game at a time.

Q. Talk just about the fans and how your experience has been, unity among your teammates?
JAVIER VAZQUEZ: Obviously playing in March it's different than just kind of like spring training for us. It's different when you play for your country than when you play for a regular team. And I really -- people have asked me that question a lot of times and I really can't answer it.
We're very excited to be here. Obviously playing first round in Puerto Rico. Fans were unbelievable over there. Rooting for us. This is our country. Obviously rooting for us. It was a really great experience and I think it's better than '06 already, and we hope it's better for us, we win here, too.

Q. Jose Oquendo and Javier, have you gotten the team ready for this game in Puerto Rico? They're looking at this as if this were a boxing match, where one of our boxers is participating or when we play against the U.S. tomorrow. In terms of Javier, have you done any scouting?
JOSE OQUENDO: Well, you don't have to do a lot because they know why they're playing. They're playing for our country, they're ready. We have discussed this individually with them and they are excited about tomorrow's game. They're ready.
The scouting, well, tomorrow we'll be sitting down with the catchers and Javier, talking about the other team's hitters. I got the report this morning. So tomorrow we'll be sitting down and getting ready?
JAVIER VAZQUEZ: Look, I know the batters better. If it's a good thing or a bad thing they'll tell you tomorrow, because they also know me pretty well. And like Jose Oquendo said, tomorrow we'll be sitting down with Ivan and Javier and Geovany (indiscernible) and we'll see how we'll pitch against those batters or hitters.

Q. The fact that you're not signed yet surprised a lot of people. There's no place for you to go to right now, how do you feel about that?
IVAN RODRIGUEZ: It's tough to be honest with you. But at the same time the only control that I have in myself is keeping myself in good shape. Working, just everything. So basically mentally and for any opportunities. But I think this classic is going to be very important for me.
I think they end up being performed so far in this Classic it helped me. But at the same time it's been very tough for me. It's hard for me at this time of the year and spring training, there is already almost a month and I am still with no job. It's hard for me and my family.
But I feel very positive. I know that I'm going to have an opportunity somewhere but the only thing I can tell you right now is just stay strong mentally, positively and the next few days something come up and be ready.
JOSE OQUENDO: One thing is other teams that haven't seen a catcher, is ready to play every day but I think Ivan is going to be ready to do whatever it takes for any team. It could be behind the plate. It could be first, it could be third if you need to. I think he's going to be willing to do that because I can hear a lot of rumors around this, no, he probably only wants to catch. He want to catch 160 games. Ivan is going to be willing to do whatever it takes to help the team win no matter what they need him.

Q. To go along with that there's a lot of rumors flowing around that the Marlins may have some interest in you. Is this a franchise, something that a team that you would be interested and do you feel those that might be kind of like a showcase for you?
IVAN RODRIGUEZ: There's been some rumors that the Marlins are interested on me. But as of right now it's not been confirmed yet. Yes, there's been some interest expressed to my agent. But it would be a nice place. I live in Miami. I lived here a lot of years. And it would be nice. In 2003, when we won, to come back here again. I think it might be good for the organization and for Miami. It might be nice to be in the Marlin uniform again.
But this is a situation that we have to sit down and be patient and see what happens.

Q. More on that. Are you confident that you'll have something shortly after the tournament ends; and, secondly, how much do you think of the J.T. Snow play here, and all the memories you have from it?
IVAN RODRIGUEZ: I think it's nice. To be honest with you, I still feel it. But it was nice. It was great to be part of that organization and to be part of that playoff. And that was one of like my best memories in my career. It takes me 12 and a half years to win a World Series and nobody thinks that we can win. I remember back in 2003 we was 10 games under 500, and we finished the season 10 games over 500. And what we did in the playoff was unbelievable.
But it was a great moment. But as of right now, like I say, we are in a nice place to be, come back and stay home and play there again. But let's see what's going to happen.

Q. I know it's the World Baseball Classic. I'm sorry to make it about you. But I do have another question. But what Jose was saying earlier, it's not important for you to start, or it is important for you to start, to have a position where you can be a starting catcher, as long as you can play and be a back-up, you'd be happy with that?
IVAN RODRIGUEZ: Everybody has to know and realize that I'm a catcher. All my career I've been a catcher. But the good thing I always do through my career is the same stuff that I do behind the plate, I do a lot of dirty work doing catching, I also do in another position, first base, second base. Because you never know what can happen. And I would love to catch.
I can play another position. I would be willing to play another position because I'm a player and I love to win. That's the most important thing to me. I'm a winner. I love to play and I would love to be on a team to win. Like they said, whatever it takes to win ball games, I'll do anything.

Q. Being in Puerto Rico, I had somewhat of an involved recent history in Puerto Rico. As we all know, Puerto Rico was not in the Caribbean Series. Now they came back to the Winter League. Clearly there were forces in winter baseball. Talk to us about that to some extent and about the importance of a tournament like the World Classic, and your chance to win in a tournament like this, and this is all in terms of Puerto Rican baseball.
IVAN RODRIGUEZ: Well, for us, what happened in Puerto Rico these last few weeks has been very important for Puerto Ricans and the island of Puerto Rico as such.
I'm going to use myself as an example. I have been a player who came to Puerto Rico this year after 10 years. I came to Puerto Rico and played winter baseball when the league came back, and I did this so that the league would be under boom again.
Basketball has been played in Puerto Rico. A series of players went to Puerto Rico to play during the winter season. And since the Classic had its host city in Puerto Rico, it was important.
Not only the Puerto Rican team, but all the games played in the Classic were games that were played good. Puerto Rico got baseball, too, because some good baseball was played in Puerto Rico. Who thought that Andy Canandro (phonetic) would be over here?
Everybody said that the Dominican Republic would play here and look what happened. That's the way baseball is. You play baseball on the field and the fans support it. They went to the game where Puerto Rico wasn't playing. They would also go at stadiums over Puerto Rico. Us Puerto Ricans are happy and proud because it was actually a success.

Q. There was an issue that it is sort of like an obligatory issue. At this stage of the game everybody knows a report has been put out indicating a situation involving Bernie Williams. I would like to know if you've spoken personally to Bernie and how can you avoid that being a distraction for the team whatever is in the public eye?
JOSE OQUENDO: I talked to Bernie this morning. I didn't go into details because it's something personal. We're going to support Bernie fully. I think it wouldn't be any diversion for us. Those are things that are getting solved. And when we know more about it we'll talk more about it. But now we just know a few things, but the best thing is to go into the substantive.

Q. Jose Oquendo, can you tell us what tomorrow's lineup is, and Javier, in terms of the preceding rounds, will you have -- will you pitch him as much as is pitched in the Classic or are you going to pitch him less?
JOSE OQUENDO: I like the ball player to be the first people to find out about it. And I want to be sure that everybody tomorrow gets up real fine, and I don't want anybody to have any discomfort because they see that. But I will wait until tomorrow to provide you the official lineup. That would be tomorrow.
JAVIER VAZQUEZ: I guess the limit is, what, 85? I must be throwing 65 or seven pitches. I must be close to the maximum number of pitches. If you need 85, we're in a good position. But we'll see what happens. 85.

Q. Here's a question for the three of you. What worries you more individually about the U.S. team?
IVAN RODRIGUEZ: Actually we have to see that we're going to play against a good team. The United States and all the teams we're going to be facing on this second round, all of us are good teams. But actually I know that my fellow teammates' mind is this: After we do what we have to do, some good pitching, some good offensive and good defensive, we will win games. Actually, we're going to play against a very good team but in turn things get decided on the field. I'm sure my team is ready and we're also going to do a good job.
JOSE OQUENDO: Well, the team has to get ready for every single situation. You only know what's going to happen when you're facing a situation. One must make adjustments, and I think the guys are going to be ready. And Javier's going to be ready to pitch and get the batters or hitters out.
That's what we can control, play hard on the field. In the end you have your head up high because you played hard, but I believe that we have a good team to win as well.
JAVIER VAZQUEZ: As they said, we all know that the United States in and of itself does also have the players, and since you also know what happens to the Dominican Republic, you win baseball on the ground.
As I said just a few minutes ago, I respect all teams in the same way. We know that the United States has a great team. They have a great lineup that's very deep. Actually, the U.S. has a lot more million people than all other countries playing right here. But we're ready to win.

Q. There's been lots of people saying by the year 2013 there might not be a World Classic. How do you guys see this? Has the tournament been a success? Do you think something should be changed so that more stars come? What do you think?
JOSE OQUENDO: The absence of two or three worries me. I know there's been some injuries, that's understandable. But I think the Classic has been a success. I think those who did not come for a specific reason should really think about it because representing your country is done with pride.
On our team, everyone wanted to come. We have lots of stars. Some of them couldn't come because of our decision, but I would like to see these guys represent their country and play because I think this is a good classic. It helps international baseball and it helps the little guys get encouraged so that they can keep playing baseball, as I said.

Q. Jose Oquendo, this is going to be the first time that Puerto Rico plays against the U.S. on an international arena. And the second one, you've been a pitcher for a long time in the National League, you're very much aware of JV. He's tomorrow's pitcher. I'd like you to tell us what do you know about him that could help all of you get ready for tomorrow's game.
JOSE OQUENDO: Well, as athletes, we like competition and competing against another team internationally I believe it's a good thing for baseball and us. The U.S. is a good team, and we're going to compete hard against them. Competition is decided on the ball field. And I think we're going to be ready for that competition. It's going to be good.
Whether it's the Dominican Republic or Holland or whatever, they're going to compete as hard as we will and we're going to compete hard.
In terms of BB, he's a good pitcher, one of the best in baseball. He's got a good sinker and changeup. We've got to be ready for him. You've got to get him early. You've got to be ready. You have to have the first pitch, because I know he's going to throw all the strikes in these initial pitches and one has to get ready for this.
THE MODERATOR: This concludes the formal press conferences for today.

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