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March 14, 2009

Carlos Beltran

Jose Oquendo

Javier Vazquez


Q. Congrats to everybody on that victory. Did you all think that you were going to achieve this, or did you really put the screws on it? Nobody expected such a good game?
JOSE OQUENDO: The guys were ready for tonight's game. There was a lot of excitement at the outset, and the guys played ball as they should, aggressively, taking extra bases, and Javy did a good job during the game pitching those innings, so it was a good game.

Q. What does this mean for Puerto Rico against the U.S. given the number of problems that there have been in Puerto Rico lately?
JOSE OQUENDO: Well, the victory is a good victory for our team, for our morale. The guys played well. But the people of Puerto Rico were watching this game excitedly, and they're also supporting us. So they also deserve it.

Q. Javier, can you say something about those early runs, how they made you feel?
JAVIER VAZQUEZ: Yes, as a pitcher on our team, scoring early gives me a little breather to keep going, a little bit of confidence, and the guys did a great job scoring six runs off Jake Peavy in the first two innings. And as I said, that gives you a little breathing room knowing that if you make a mistake, it really doesn't matter that much.

Q. Jose, beyond the importance of this victory, is it useful to send a message to other teams? And Carlos, you had a good performance on offensively. You were playing Caribbean baseball on the bases with that stolen base and that hit-and-run. Not too many people expected it. How do you feel about helping the team today?
JOSE OQUENDO: Well, here's a message. They know that we have a good team, and they're going to play aggressively as they should, trying to take advantage of different opportunities and causing pitchers to work as much as they can. That's the message that's being taken. The guys are going to be ready to play. I know that Venezuela will have a pretty good team, and they're going to be ready for us, too, so it's going to be a good game.
CARLOS BELTRAN: Well, thank God it felt well. It was a good game. It was a group-type game - good pitching, good on offensively, good defense. When you put all those things together, you have lots of chances to win ballgames, and thank God I felt good at the plate and the hit-and-run from first to second. He put his head down and I tried to fake him, and when he reacted late, I decided to run to second. In order to be successful in these short series, you have to play aggressively and try to do as much as you can.

Q. I have two questions, the first is for Javier: You have been accused that you wouldn't win big games. Did you show tonight that you win big games, and did you do so emphatically by winning for Puerto Rico? In terms of today, six runs in the first few innings. Yesterday you said it was important to get to the U.S. pitcher early. Did you focus on the importance of going after Peavy early so that you could get the victory and have the game end as it did?
JAVIER VAZQUEZ: First of all, I pitch for Jesus, who is my savior. That's what I want to tell you. And I really don't care what people say. I know who I am and the quality of pitcher that I've been throughout my career, and I know that my teammates know this, as well, and I know. I trust them and they trust me, too, and we're here to win.
I don't pitch to show anybody if I can pitch in an important game or not; I pitch for God, for my family and for my team that's always supporting me.
JOSE OQUENDO: In terms of aggressiveness I knew that we had to get Peavy early. Eduardo Perez did a good job of talking to the guys about that, and we had to make him throw the pitches. He always tries to be ahead early in the game and then he gets out of control a little bit, and they made him work a lot. The guys were ready for the strike zone, and they made good contact with the bat.

Q. For both Jose and Javier: In the fifth inning where they had two guys on and had a run in and it had gotten a little bit tight there, can you kind of walk us through how you go about pitching to those guys at that point? And Jose, could you just talk about how big a point in the game it was to get the strike out and the fly out and get out of that inning?
JAVIER VAZQUEZ: First of all, we had a good lead. They got a couple men on base with nobody on, and they got a run there with one out. The main thing what I was thinking is try to not let them score the guy that was on second. The guy that was on third, if he scores, we're still up. So I had to stay aggressive because we had a lead, and obviously when I had DeRosa with two strikes I was thinking try to strike him out, and gladly I did. And after that a fly out and it was a big out there.
JOSE OQUENDO: That was a big inning, especially for Javy. He worked hard in that inning to get out. He did what he had to do in that inning. For us it was a good inning, but we had some people getting ready just in case. I know the pitch limit was 85, but we talked to Javy and some of the other guys. I don't think they're ready for 85 yet. For me when the pitch count was 75 pitches, then that's how we go.

Q. I wanted to ask Jose, you already know who your opponent is going to be - Venezuela. And Venezuela will have pitcher Felix Hernández, a guy that's got a lot of talent, he's been in the majors, and Venezuela said this: If they win this game, we're going to hit them with everything we've got. How is Puerto Rico planning this game against Venezuela? Who's going to open? Who's going to be the Puerto Rican arm in that game? And mentally how do you look upon Venezuela as an opponent? It's two teams, Puerto Rico and Venezuela with a lot of fans, a lot of offensive power, and really what's working is the pitching?
JOSE OQUENDO: We're going to go with Snell. He's going to pitch that game. Venezuela is a strong team. It's a hard team. Tomorrow we'll be filing the reports and checking the reports on how we're going to work on their batters as we did today. We had a good report, and Javier did a good job carrying it out.
We expect to get a good report and execute the best we can.

Q. Jose, do you think that your team might have caught the U.S. a little bit on its heels by being so aggressive in the first inning, hit-and-run, first to third?
JOSE OQUENDO: I mean, that was a big inning for us, being aggressive. That was my plan from the beginning. We had a hit-and-run with Feliciano as soon as he got on base, and we were trying to send a message that we have to be aggressive with the team. And the guys did a good job running the bases the way they're supposed to be run. It was exciting for us, so that was a great game for the guys.

Q. Javier, first of all, I have to congratulate you because today lots of people don't attest to who God is in their life, and when you see an athlete attesting to what God is in his life, I have to congratulate you. Second of all, the Dominican Republic lost and was ruled out. Holland won surprisingly against the Dominican team and hopefully Puerto Rico and Venezuela go to bat for the Dominican Republic, and I think that's how it's going to be. How did you feel? I looked at the game, and your first pitch was always a strike and the ball was right there. You were focusing on the game, and I think it was important in the decision that you pitch a good game, that the first ball you would throw, it was a strike. How did you feel at the time?
JAVIER VAZQUEZ: Well, thank God, I felt really well throughout the entire game, and I knew that the U.S. had a very good lineup.
We're aware of the type of team the U.S. had, and I tried to be as aggressive as I could, and I always tried to be ahead in the count. Any pitcher tells you that being ahead in the count and trying to be on top of hitters, it's going to help the pitcher more than the hitter. You don't want to be chasing hitters like those the U.S. has. So my plan was always to be aggressive, and, well, how should I put it, throwing strikes in the zone, and Ivan did a great job behind the plate. Ivan is doing a great job in the series, and we have executed as planned in our meetings.

Q. Good evening, Carlos. I wanted to ask you about the game with Venezuela: It's going to be a game for classifying. What's the key in scoring against the Venezuelan team? Is there an atmosphere of getting revenge since Venezuela won in the year 2006, because Venezuela won in the second round?
CARLOS BELTRAN: I would say that the important key against Venezuela is to score early in the game, and anyone scoring early will have the best chance to win that game, because you know that when a team scores early, the pitcher gets confidence and he gets us well ahead. That's the game plan. You have to pitch well, you have to play good defense. You have to do everything well to win. We know Venezuela has a good team, a team of veterans, young people.
Hernández is a great pitcher, but right now in this series there's no favorite. The favorite is anyone going out there giving all they've got. You could have a good game as we did today, but we could also have a bad day. We hope to God that we will never have a bad game. But in baseball there's nothing written. As the man said, the Dominican Republic was eliminated from this Classic; everybody thought that the Dominican Republic was going to win. It was an All-Star team and it's not here. There's no easy team here. You have to go out on the field and do things on the field.

Q. You've had a career full of successes. How does this success compare with other successes in your career? Is it the most important day, the one you have enjoyed the most?
JAVIER VAZQUEZ: This is a very important game for my career clearly. This Classic is a very important event worldwide, and everybody knows the number of teams we've got here. To me it's one of the most important games that I have pitched. As I said, it's not the same thing when you pitch for a big league team than when you pitch for your country. It's a feeling that's more exciting. I don't know how to put it, but it's something more exciting.
CARLOS BELTRAN: I believe that it's a privilege for me to have the chance to represent Puerto Rico for the second time in an event of this nature. Tonight we had a perfect night. We pitched, we played good defense, we hit, everything turned out well. We are happy with the work that everybody did. This is not a victory of one, two or three people; it's a team-type victory, and that's our goal, to win as a team. Go out on the field and play as hard as we can.

Q. There is something very interesting and this question is for Carlos and Javier: There was something interesting in Miami - they're out there screaming "Puerto Rico! Puerto Rico!" This is the U.S. and you guys played here as a home club, not only because you have the white shirt but you're the home club here. How does each of you feel when you play in this atmosphere?
CARLOS BELTRAN: First of all, I'm very happy because we've gotten support from the fans. Actually we felt as if we were playing in Puerto Rico. There was great support. I wasn't expecting that it would be as it was. I thought there were going to be more Americans and Hispanics. We're in the U.S. but I appreciate the support, and we thank the Puerto Rican fans for having supported us because we really do this both for them and for Puerto Rico.
JAVIER VAZQUEZ: I join Carlos in terms of his words. We knew that there would be Puerto Ricans, but we didn't expect that large amount of Puerto Ricans who were here supporting us, and for us it was clearly something really nice that all of them were here. And as Hispanics we know that as Venezuelans, the Dominicans, and we Puerto Ricans, we were especially well supported in cities like Miami and New York. There are lots of Hispanics, we know they're going to support us and we are very happy with all the Hispanics that came here today.

Q. I think of the 33,590, 29,000 were Puerto Ricans, and they may be listening to us. Do you have any plan for Venezuela or are you going to wait for the reports?
JOSE OQUENDO: We'll wait for the reports, but tomorrow we're going to be taking a good look at the videos and how we're going to face their hitters. By Monday before the game, as we usually do, all three catchers, Carlito Arroyo and myself, we'll meet with them, and we're going to check the lineup because right now we don't know the lineup that we'll have. We're going to wait for the day of the game in order to do this.
Tomorrow nobody is going to be the catcher. The guy in the bullpen is going to be catching tomorrow (laughter), Molina.

Q. I would like to congratulate Puerto Rico on behalf of the Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republic had specifications on players from the majors. I saw Carlos play, and he was doing everything he could for the cause. I didn't see some of the Dominican players do this. Can you tell me if you have had any specifics in terms of playing on this Baseball Classic?
CARLOS BELTRAN: We didn't get any specifications. We do it because we love it. This is what we love, baseball. I'm sure that Jose Reyes and Ramirez did as much as they could in Puerto Rico. In events like this, we're getting in shape for the season. There are not a whole lot of hitters who are ready at this time at the plate. Thank God I had a good night tonight. In Puerto Rico I didn't feel well. I thought it was lost at home plate. We're getting ready. I was happy with tonight. Actually when I go out on the ball field, you have to do either one of two things well: Either you hit or you play good defense. If you can play the team in one area, fine. There are days that you're going to hit and there will be days that you won't hit, but you have to play good defense. Tonight was a good game, and we thank God for this night.
JOSE OQUENDO: The Netherlands was not an easy team because they gave us trouble, too. Thank God we were able to make a few plays that saved us in some of the dangerous innings. The Dominican Republic didn't do that. They made some key mistakes that hurt them, and that's the way baseball is. When you play baseball, especially in a short series, you have to do the little things. We have to pitch, we have to run the bases well, and that's how you win games. If you make a mistake, it could cost you a lot.

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