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March 14, 2009

Magglio Ordonez

Carlos Silva

Luis Sojo


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Luis Sojo.

Q. Just talk about Carlos Silva giving you a terrific outing, seven innings, and what that did for your club today.
LUIS SOJO: Well, I have a lot of confidence in Carlos because this guy threw a lot of strikes. We're going with 85 pitches, and we just want him to keep us in the game, and he did a great job. The key for him was throwing the first pitch for strikes, and our goal is to get the ball to Francisco.
You know, he did a great job, and that's why he's No. 1.

Q. You have come to these tournaments step by step. I don't know whether your plans get fulfilled, and that's a positive for you as a manager. What do you think of tomorrow's game at this time? And before, I would like you to react to a situation with Magglio. Actually it was a bit heavy, and we would like to know your opinion about that.
LUIS SOJO: Well, look, we came with a goal of winning two games on this round, and Carlos was awesome for sure. Our goal is to give the ball to get to Rodriguez, and this happened once again. There was 85 pitches. Bear in mind that Carlos has a good sinker ball, he throws a lot of strikes, and today he worked out perfectly.
We came to play ball here. Political matters don't interest me at all. Our goal is still intact, and it's trying to win those two games.

Q. The game ended up harder than what you thought at the beginning. Was it harder than what you thought at the beginning? And the other thing is what made you choose Hernandez in the eighth inning?
LUIS SOJO: Look, there was a game that's the most important one. It's always important to win the first game, and Holland is not -- in round 2 if they didn't have their current pitchers, Ponson, Endy Chávez' triple and Miguel Cabrera's hit that defined the game, but they did a good job pitching, and Yoel is a man that has done that job. I just wanted two outs because I talked to Espinoza and I told him he was ready for four outs. I spoke to him and he said yes. Unfortunately things got a bit complicated, and well, thank God everything worked out.

Q. The most important thing here would be that Venezuela got a game and focused on the U.S. and Puerto Rico, but we can't avoid the situation. First of all, why did you remove Maggie in the seventh inning, and to what extent could the audience's hostility affect the entire team, not just Ordoñez?
LUIS SOJO: It's easy, I'm looking for the defensive end. That doesn't happen right now, that happened in Toronto when you have players such as Endy Chávez, Gregor Blanco and these are excellent outfielders.
You must bear in mind that Magglio is playing a position different from his. He is an original right fielder and that hostility, that harassment, they're actually ball players, and respectively, you have to respect political differences. And once again, that's something that we're not side stepping, but we do know that we came to play ball here, and that's it. We have to win the games, and that's what we're doing at this time.
THE MODERATOR: We've been joined by Magglio Ordoñez and Carlos Silva.

Q. Luis, it was significant that you were able to win this game, especially because the team this time didn't hit as much as it did over in Toronto. I have a question: Can you comment about the fact that you won this game with the minimum effort? And in terms of Carlos, talk to us about what this game meant to you. In your opinion, what was key to this good performance that you had today?
CARLOS SILVA: Well, first of all, I thank God for this game. As I usually say, this is not a game but rather a commitment for us. Every time we represent our country, it's something else. As I said earlier, it's a commitment, and actually I felt quite well. My sinker ball was working quite well today, and thanks to my team, the defensive end was key.
As Carlos Silva is known, I won't go out and strike out everybody, and as long as I have a good defense, we're going to have a good game.

Q. I would like to ask Magglio Ordoñez: Usually when a ball players is representing his country, the audience and everyone should accept him because you're making an effort when you represent your country, but the Venezuelan audience is booing you. What do you think is going on in there?
MAGGLIO ORDOÑEZ: Well, I guess they should know why. I think that it's given my political position more than anything. Here in Miami you have a whole host of Venezuelans who live here and they're against the government, and I support the government. So that's why they boo me, they heckle me, they criticize me, because I made a personal decision. I am not really hurting anyone; I'm just here to help my team win and take that championship banner to Venezuela. But that's not the reality in my country. There are lots of people in my country who love me. I don't have any grudge against them. I think they're not very well informed. I was ready for all of that, so actually it didn't affect me at all.
We're going forward. We're going to have Venezuela up high, and we're going to win this championship.

Q. Luis, we had a very specific situation today. Given what happened to Magglio, and actually to some extent this was highlighted more than even the game. I would like to ask you to say some words to the Venezuelan fans because while we were watching the game, we wondered, and that was many of us up in the press box, what would happen if Venezuela had three men on base and Magglio would come up to hit? Can you say some words about this as you as the manager of the Venezuelan team?
LUIS SOJO: Look, unfortunately what's going on or what happened today is unfortunate, because they have to come and support a baseball team irrespective of political differences. It's not fair for sure because, and I'm making this call to the fans, we didn't come over here to support anybody. We came here to represent a specific country. We came here to please an entire country that's hungry for winning. That country wants this team to win, and as a result, the audience's or public's responsibility is to support the team and our responsibility is to try to win the games and please all our fans, and up until this time we are achieving this.

Q. Carlos, I wanted to ask you this: What was the key in that second inning when the Dutch team was attacking and you came out of that inning with that strike and that ruling to Ramon? What do you think of what happened to Magglio?
CARLOS SILVA: Well, at least in the second inning the most important thing that I could do was to keep calm, and that's something that I've been doing lately. No matter what happens in the game, I try to keep calm and I try to get a ground ball. I went out to the mound, I took some air, let's try to get a ground ball and we'll be able to get out of the inning, and that's what happened.
In terms of Magglio, as Luis said, it's quite sad, because it leaves all of us now the caliber and type of ball players Magglio is, and for a ball players to have the willingness to come over and represent Venezuela. The fans to treat him like that, that's pretty sad. I'm saying it clearly. In terms of all the fans, I don't want to bad mouth anybody or anything, but when they boo and heckle Magglio. He is part of our team, and what happens to our players happens to every single one of us. We are supporting Magglio, and Magglio is not criticizing, hey, because you support Chávez. Why do you not support Chávez? I see that Magglio respects everyone's point of view, and I'm asking all the fans the following: We're representing Venezuela. If Magglio supports Chávez or otherwise, let's respect that he's a ball players and let's respect that he was willing to come over and represent our country.

Q. Carlos, you made a surprise at the training camps when you were a lot thinner, and we have seen a substantial change in terms of the former Carlos Silva. Was that an important factor or was there a change in the mechanics or your training or something to be able to achieve this positive change that we have seen in you?
CARLOS SILVA: No, for sure the weight was a very significant factor for me because now I lost nearly 30 or 35 pounds, and that helps me quite a bit because I feel lighter, I feel more agile on the mound. I can pitch more comfortably and well.
There was a change in the mechanics. I have been working with Roberto Espinoza and I'm very thankful to him because he's devoted a lot of time to us. We know when he came over to represent Venezuela, different pitchers come from different organizations. He doesn't know every single one of us, but he's been willing to teach us some things. He's been patient, but I do feel quite well and very pleased that I could lose a few pounds, and well, I'm going to keep on working. I'm going to try to stay like this.

Q. Luis, how much time with you spent with Magglio just talking with him about how to handle this thing with the fans, and what's your advice to him? He obviously seems to be handling it well?
LUIS SOJO: Well, he knew it was coming, and I told him before the game, "I don't know who's going to get the worst booing, you or me," but he said, "I've got you." So we were talking, and we take it as a joke because we don't worry about that. Trust me on that, we don't worry about that, we just worry about winning games. Me and Magglio, we talk about it, and "Hey, I just want you to concentrate. Try to hit the ball as hard as you can and have a good at-bat," and he did that.
I mean, he's taking it easy. He knew it was coming, and that's important that he know that.

Q. Luis, now comes step No. 2, Monday's game. Will there be any change? What are you thinking, especially since you have to evaluate what happens tonight between the U.S. and Puerto Rico? Will there be a change? Will Félix Hernández be in or who could it be?
LUIS SOJO: No, Felix will be the pitcher for the second game, and eventually he's going to take us to the semifinals. Lineup changes, tomorrow, we're going to practice, we're going to come tomorrow once again, we're going to evaluate each ball players. Every single one of them is a human being and you never know how they're going to be waking up, and from then on we're going to continue with the same plan. Things are working out well, and when that happens you will always stick to that road.

Q. The decision to have K-Rod, a four-out save there, I think all last year he didn't get four outs. How difficult a decision was that and how much did you talk about it with him beforehand?
LUIS SOJO: We talked with him in the eighth about that. I wanted him to get four outs, and when they got this situation, two men on, one out, I was thinking about bringing him. I talked to my pitching coach, "Is he ready?" He said, "No, he needs a couple more pitches. We'll bring Vazquez." This guy has been pitching good. So that was the plan, to bring Francisco to get four outs for the team.

Q. What can you say about Endy Chávez' first shift and the play between him and Ramón in inning No. 2 with that out at the plate?
LUIS SOJO: Endy together with Blanco, as I said before, have ignited our offensive game for sure, and that really motivates hitters such as Melvin, Abreu, Miguel, Magglio, and they are the ones in charge of bringing in the runs.
In baseball you have to execute, and that's what Ramón and Endy did. That was an important play for the game because the guys from Holland do not surrender. Actually they came over and they have nothing to lose. They are professionals, but that desire they displayed on the field was obvious. It seemed that they want to beat the other teams, and unfortunately the Dominican Republic is not around because they did some things to them, and we didn't want that to happen to us.

Q. Luis, with Francisco going four outs today, how does that affect him on Monday and later on in this tournament?
LUIS SOJO: Believe me, he's got a full day tomorrow. You can use one reliever, he throws 30 pitches and you can't use him the next day. But he only threw 16, 15 pitches, he's got a full day tomorrow, and he'll be all right for Monday. Hopefully I don't use him.

Q. Magglio, when you hear people from your own country booing and cheering strikeouts, do you at all regret coming here? And what's it make you feel like?
MAGGLIO ORDOÑEZ: Well, before I came to this tournament I knew what was going to happen. I'm used to it. You know, I play in front of 50,000, 60,000 people in the Big Leagues. It's a thing that you choose. I'm used to these things, and actually I was ready for what's going to be happening.
They may have their own reasons for booing me, but I'm a person that they should respect on the team because I am not Venezuela; Venezuela is the entire team. And when they boo me, they're booing everybody. Actually during the game, some players got upset. Instead of paying attention to the game, they were keeping an eye on my striking out or doing something wrong, and you know, I actually feel quite ashamed because of all the booing because the Venezuelans, because the guys do not deserve that. When they boo me, they're also booing them. Hopefully we'll turn the page and things are going to be different the next game.
We came over here to win and bring the championship to Venezuela, which really needs it.

Q. Luis, I want to hear a comment of yours on the importance of winning this game even though you guys didn't hit as you had hit before. How do you perceive this? I would like to hear your comment on that specific situation.
LUIS SOJO: Well, look, this team has hit throughout the tournament with the exception of today. We have to give Ponson full credit; he stopped the hitters. Those hits were basic, but the team executed and did the things to win the game, and that's why we won today.
Pitchers kill hitters no matter the team.

Q. You were lucky to be the manager of the previous team and be the manager of this team. You have lots of experience in this. What's the difference between this team and the preceding team? A lot of people walked out, a lot of people didn't go to the Classic, and people were up in arms. What's the difference between this team and the previous team?
LUIS SOJO: In addition to our guys' preparation, I believe the chemistry of the team was important. Lots of our players said no because maybe they had other opportunities, and we respect this. There were lots of problems two weeks before the tournament. I can't deny that. For me the most important thing is what the guys are saying in the clubhouse, what they want for the country. That's personal ego of showing the world that Venezuela has the wherewithal to get a world championship, and that's being achieved.
I believe that is the difference, because when you have problems as a ball players, defensively or offensively, you are not throwing strikes, those are your problems, and that happened in the World Baseball Classic the last time. There wasn't that rapport, that union amongst the guys. And now since everyone is pitching in, that union and that teamwork aren't quite as important, and actually that's how teams get the win.

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