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March 18, 2009

Davey Johnson


DAVEY JOHNSON: I don't like this setup. It's not my favorite kind of setup. I feel like I'm in a chair in a room where you did something bad, like a time-out.

Q. You did something pretty good last night.
DAVEY JOHNSON: Yeah, that was special last night. It was really good.

Q. Do you still feel it today going into this round?
DAVEY JOHNSON: I felt it all night. I had a hard time sleeping. I was still thinking about it. It was special.

Q. Put into words why it was so important to get that victory for USA.
DAVEY JOHNSON: Well, three years ago we didn't show so good, but everything I ever read was that we weren't prepared, everybody else was more prepared. To come back and win that and prove everybody wrong and representing your country, couldn't get any better than that.

Q. How do you get up for this one after the way last night ended?
DAVEY JOHNSON: Well, we're used to playing every day. We hope the weather is going to permit this to be played. The pitcher needs to throw, Guthrie, but again, it's just giving guys some more time throwing to hitters. But we're going to the big dance, and that's where we wanted to go.

Q. I know you still have work you want to get done in Los Angeles, but when you see the way the players reacted last night and then even the way some of them spoke afterwards, do you think down the line that could serve as a recruiting tool for maybe guys who didn't think this was worth their time this go-around?
DAVEY JOHNSON: Well, I think no doubt the celebration at the end, how excited the guys were to win a big game for the United States, I think everybody here has had a great time being here, even though we've had off-days, even though there's been situations with travel, I think everybody has really enjoyed it. Everybody I've talked to, they're really happy to be here and honored to be here representing our country.
So I think this event is just going to grow and grow.

Q. How much do you think the fact that Team USA is playing in the semifinals is going to help the visibility?
DAVEY JOHNSON: Well, I think that's huge, there's no question about it. Obviously it's our game, we've set the example of excellence over here, and a lot of countries have come a long way to catch up to us. I don't think they think that we're taking this event seriously, but we certainly are. To go out and play against Korea, who won the Olympics last year, and either Japan or Cuba, I don't think it gets any better than that.

Q. Do you think the style of the win last night will do anything to boost the support here at home in Dolphin Stadium, at least tonight?
DAVEY JOHNSON: Well, I mean, they have baseball played right here. They have a fine young organization here. That game last night, if anybody didn't enjoy that game last night, they don't enjoy anything because that game was one of the best games I've ever been involved in. Great players on the field and great things happening.

Q. You said you thought the best was still to come. Did last night finally serve as a catalyst to finally give them confidence and that they can build off that?
DAVEY JOHNSON: I don't think there was a question of confidence. I think this team is very confident. You look around, there's nothing but All-Stars on this ballclub. I think just playing into shape, getting more at-bats against quality pitching. The intensity of play this time of year is unbelievable.
You know, you do your work in spring training and get your work in and try to peak toward April. But everybody down there really got up from day one in Toronto.
It's still a difficult thing for the pitchers because our pitchers are still behind a lot of the other pitchers. Hopefully by this coming weekend we'll be catching up.

Q. Can you talk about the continuity of playing together.
DAVEY JOHNSON: Not so much continuity of playing together. I think this club kind of bonded real early by playing together. It's just pitchers hitting their spots, getting their rhythm, using all their pitches. You know, our starters are behind a lot of the starters on a lot of the other clubs. But they're going to be catching up. So I think that bodes good for the United States.

Q. (Inaudible.)
DAVEY JOHNSON: That's a good question. We've been discussing it. There's a good possibility that Youkilis may be off the roster. He was being examined in Fort Myers. He played with kind of a sprained ankle the other night. I have a bad feeling. I wasn't going to play him tonight no matter what. I mean, we've been devastated by some key injuries, but we'll address that after tonight.

Q. Do you know when that happened, the date of the original injury?
DAVEY JOHNSON: Actually it happened about two or three days ago.

Q. Against the Netherlands?
DAVEY JOHNSON: I don't know exactly. I just know his name started coming up on the treatment list. We'll just have to wait and see. I think he was going to get an MRI sometime today. He has a very tender ankle, and I think he's in Fort Myers right now and we speak. I think he's getting an MRI. The way I feel right now, I don't think he's going to come back.

Q. Which ankle is it?
DAVEY JOHNSON: I'm not sure which one it is -- left ankle.

Q. Did he aggravate it again last night?
DAVEY JOHNSON: No, it was hurt, I think, two or three days before that. We had a couple days off going into the Netherlands game, and he had a day off after that, and he wasn't going to miss this game last night for the world. But he's no speed demon, but you could tell he was not 100 percent, even last night.

Q. (Inaudible.)
DAVEY JOHNSON: Yeah, I mean, he's a huge part of this ballclub. He's a clean-up hitter, he's a gamer. You know, but also we don't want to take any chances. Ankles can linger, and that's something that needs to be addressed right away. That's why I say, he wasn't moving very good at all last night. Going to the press conference, he was in a lot of pain. I just really -- I don't see him coming back, to be honest with you.

Q. DeRosa, Granderson and Victorino in the outfield?
DAVEY JOHNSON: You know, I've been thinking about it for the last 24 hours, and really I'm not sure that I could even play DeRosa over at first. I know Eric Wedge didn't want him over there, wanted him on the left side. He didn't plan to use him over there. So we'll just have to wait and see.

Q. (Inaudible.)
DAVEY JOHNSON: No, they don't want him playing over there, either. They want him in the outfield. I'd probably agree with that.

Q. Since last night has there been an outpouring in baseball showing their pride?
DAVEY JOHNSON: No question. My emails have quadrupled, tripled, whatever. It was just a great thing. I mean, it was a wonderful thing. It was a wonderful moment that you don't usually see in March other than on a basketball court. This was an exciting thing to happen in baseball.

Q. When did Youkilis leave?
DAVEY JOHNSON: I think -- I don't know, he might have left last night, but I knew he was going to spend the day in Fort Myers with the Red Sox and their trainers and their doctors.

Q. (Inaudible question regarding Ryan Braun.)
DAVEY JOHNSON: Yes, I hope he felt good last night. He was bringing his bat in, and I said, "You can't bring your bat in; you're not even going to pick it up." Hopefully he will be fine. He says he's fine. I haven't heard to the contrary from Milwaukee, so he should be available.

Q. As of right now are you unclear who will be playing first base?

Q. How will you resolve that?
DAVEY JOHNSON: Well, you know, tonight I've got my right fielder playing first base. It's not something that the Nationals want me to do with him, but he's over there.

Q. What did your players show you last night?
DAVEY JOHNSON: Well, it was setting up real good, and things happen. The key was Victorino and Roberts getting on. You know, the right part of the lineup was coming up. Any one of those guys that were up at home plate could have hit one out, and they were very patient and showed me a lot of character being patient and not trying to expand their zone, letting the next guy be the hero.
So great at-bat by Rollins, great at-bat by Youkilis, and obviously a great at-bat by David Wright.

Q. Does it go along with the pride factor, too, because a lot of guys kept talking about it?
DAVEY JOHNSON: At the press conference after the game both Youkilis and David Wright said it's a great feeling to be able to do that for the U.S. of A. It took a lot of pressure off since we wanted to get to California, to LA. Three years ago we didn't make it, so I mean, guys felt really good about it. I thought it was October the way they were celebrating in the clubhouse. It was great.

Q. (Inaudible.)
DAVEY JOHNSON: I thought for sure Japan would be there to defend their title. Korea proved that they have an outstanding baseball program by what they did in the Olympics, so that's not a surprise. It's going to be a very interesting game. I guess it's tonight at 11:00 o'clock. I'm anxious to see how that comes out.

Q. (Question regarding the first baseman).
DAVEY JOHNSON: Well, therein lies the problem. We don't have any on there. There's one on there that's unavailable in Derrek Lee. That's some of the things that are wrong. Without knowing who's going to have problems in the spring when you have problems here, I think those are things that are going to have to be addressed by the technical committee.

Q. Lee is healthy, right?
DAVEY JOHNSON: From what I was told, he hurt his knee and he didn't play today and he's not going to be able to play, do anything, until I think after the weekend.
We have some third basemen available, but that doesn't solve my problem. I can't be putting over an All-Star third baseman at first.

Q. So you replace Chipper and hopefully Youkilis --
DAVEY JOHNSON: We can replace one pitcher and there's two positions we can replace. I think the big key is I would like to have somebody to play first if Youk isn't able to come back.

Q. If a guy was on your provisional roster, could he replace that person?
DAVEY JOHNSON: That's the question. I mean, it's kind of like two catchers. On reentry, if one of them gets hurt, the second one is playing. Can you reenter? You can't. So you live with that. But this is like, what if you have two extra catchers over there and they're both hurt and one of yours is hurt, and then you play with one catcher and he gets hurt? So there's issues about protecting the players from injury.
Like I said, I heard somebody announce -- I think it was Gary Thorne, said that if my second catcher got hurt, I would forfeit. I'd have to. I mean, I couldn't take a chance of putting somebody behind the dish that never caught.

Q. (Inaudible.)
DAVEY JOHNSON: McCann is a great hitter. He hit two bullets off of left-handers. But also, if he didn't, I wouldn't have that option. Say he was weak against left-handed pitching, and I would want to make a change, but I wouldn't have been able to, just on the chance that something would happen, and then I'd have to call it quits.

Q. Have you talked to the Nationals and seeing if they'd sign off Dunn playing first, if that might resolve it?
DAVEY JOHNSON: Yeah, we'll probably have to call Cleveland about DeRosa. No one in the club wants to play a guy -- I mean, I called Bobby Cox about Chipper. I said, "Can I play him over there?" He said, "Oh, no." And Chipper didn't want to go over there. I said in an emergency. I'm not saying just play him over there, I'm saying just in emergency. That's the same with DeRosa in talking to Eric Wedge, he wants him on the left side of the infield.

Q. (Inaudible.)
DAVEY JOHNSON: Yeah, I've seen Nick Johnson playing first, so I don't know. I'd basically only play him here in the outfield. He's playing tonight. I don't have anybody else. I don't have a choice.
You know, my catchers, I've played him in left field because I had no other choice. Thank goodness I didn't get a call from the Braves. Iannetta said, "Well, I can play third." He's been taking ground balls at third. But I can't go down that road. I just can't go down that road.

Q. So you wouldn't use McCann or DeRosa at first?
DAVEY JOHNSON: No, no. I don't want anybody to put a contract out on me.

Q. How much does that take away from the fact that it's supposed to be Team USA and the best players, and you can't get the best players?
DAVEY JOHNSON: You know, a lot of these little things, these questions that happen, they happened probably three years ago, but now that they're happening this year, they need to be addressed because the integrity of the game, the welfare of the players entering the season, you just can't have this becoming a circus down here, playing guys out of position.

End of FastScripts

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