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December 8, 2010
LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLORIDA
Q. You signed a one-year contract, what's it going to be like this year, there's going to be speculation that maybe you'll be back next year, maybe you won't, your good friend Ozzie Guillen's name has come up. How will you deal that, No. 1 and has Ozzie reached out to you? Have you joked around about the speculation?
EDWIN RODRIGUEZ: I'm going to deal with the situation the same way that I deal with it last year. When they called me up back in June, it was a one-day deal, a one-week deal, and so I just concentrate on the task at hand. It was a matter of concentrating what I was supposed to do at the moment. And then one day, Mr. Jeffrey Loria decided that I'm going to be managing the team for the rest of the season.
I approach it on a daily basis, one day at a time and now they made an extension on that contract to 2011. So I'm going to approach it the same way, and I don't worry about what's going to happen after that. I mean, it could be Ozzie, it could be anybody. If I don't do my job, it could be Ozzie, it could be anybody. But if I do my job, I'm pretty sure that it a good thing might happen.
Q. You and Ozzie are good friends. Has he joked at all with you in text messages about this?
EDWIN RODRIGUEZ: I haven't talked to him at all. I was hoping that I could talk to him here, but no, I haven't seen him. But no, we haven't talked about that.
Q. Do you see this as a win/win situation, no matter what happens? You're now a Major League manager and your name is in the mix, you're part of that fraternity, so whatever happens, you're still sort of going to be up there now.
EDWIN RODRIGUEZ: Oh, definitely. It's a win/win situation, but it's because -- not only because I am managing at the big league level, but it's because I'm going to have a chance to manage a very young group, and also very talented; that they have a chance to win a lot of ballgames and they are going to have a chance to play together for a long, long time. So I'm more excited about that than the fact that I'm going to be managing in the big leagues.
Q. How has the preparation in this off-season been different, preparing to manage a Major League team, as opposed to a Triple-A team?
EDWIN RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, it has been different for the fact that I'm going to be able to establish what I think -- the way we should be approaching and playing the game. In the Minor Leagues, you're more into the development side, and you go with whatever the organization wants you pretty much to do and how to develop players. But in the big leagues, it's all about winning, and so we're going to have a chance, me and my staff, to put together a way to play the game, and the philosophy and the approach and the strategy to play the game.
So hopefully we can establish that in Spring Training.
Q. Following that, as a Minor League manager, you don't know who your team is really going to be at this time of the year going into the season.
EDWIN RODRIGUEZ: Oh, yeah, a week before the season starting in the Minor Leagues, you don't even have an idea who the players are going to be.
So being in the big leagues is different. I mean, you have a very good idea how the lineup is going to look, how the rotation is going to look. So that you kind of plan knowing that, who is going to be available.
Q. How difficult was it when you come in in the middle of the season and you didn't have the Spring Training, you didn't have your plays and all that goes with it and you're just running the team, how difficult was that?
EDWIN RODRIGUEZ: Well, it was difficult, because I was getting to a very difficult situation, very tough situation, back in June. You know, I was replacing the manager that was very well-liked by the players and a very good manager in Freddy. So I was dealing with that; plus the fact that it was the first time managing in the big leagues.
I felt very confident back then that, you know, the players would be back and in a positive way. It was all about the game. And they are professional. They make the switch. They it turn the page and they were concentrating on playing the game, and it showed that.
Q. Very tough division you're in. A lot of injuries last year on your team. If your team stays healthy this year, how far do you think you can go in that division?
EDWIN RODRIGUEZ: Oh, I think -- well, as a manager and the staff and the front office, we have very, very high expectations for this team for 2011. It's my job to make sure every player knows that we expect a lot from them. Not only as individual players, but also as a team. And my job is going to be to enforce that, to make sure that they develop some accountability, and so it's going to be up to me to make sure they do that. And I am planning to do that in a very respectable way. But that's a big part of my job is to make sure that everybody does their part.
Q. What thing did you discover going from the minors to the majors that really struck you, like, wow, I didn't know this was involved; managing was one thing, managing from the dugout, but just that part of that role, what did you discover?
EDWIN RODRIGUEZ: To be honest, I think that I was expecting every situation that I had and dealt with it. The game is pretty much the same. There is a small margin for errors, but the toughest part for me is dealing with the media. That was the thing that I have to make adjustments.
But the game, dealing with the players, the game itself, I was expecting that.
Q. There's far more data available in the big leagues than the minors, are you using much more of it?
EDWIN RODRIGUEZ: I wouldn't say a lot. The margin of error in the big leagues is very small. I'm making sure that every player knows that and every player develops the ability so they can perform on a daily basis routine plays.
But the experience in the Minor Leagues, that helps make you and to become the manager that I am and to develop by trial and error a philosophy to manage in the big leagues.
Q. Your team is going to be young. What is it about it that you like and think, and the reason why you think it can contend and do very well next year?
EDWIN RODRIGUEZ: Well, this team, this group of players, they are very young, but also very talented. And what I really like about this group of players is their makeup. Obviously they have the physical abilities to play in the big leagues, but also, that intangible, the makeup that Michael Stanton has with Gaby SÃ¡nchez and Josh Johnson, I think that's what is going to make the difference on this team to make sure that they are going to have -- that we are going to compete this year, 2011 and who knows how far we can go.
For the next decade, I think this group is going to be very interesting to watch play and see what they can do on the field.
Q. Now that you've had some time to think about it more, if the season started tomorrow, how would your lineup go, and in particular, four, five, six in the order, how do you think that will go?
EDWIN RODRIGUEZ: Well, right now, this is January -- we are December 8, I believe (laughing). I always say Chris Coghlan is going to be leading off, Omar, Ramirez, Michael Stanton, Logan Morrison, Gaby Sanchez, John Buck and Dominguez.
Q. From what you've seen of Michael Stanton, he'll be 21 years old on Opening Day and he'll be able to handle that clean-up role?
EDWIN RODRIGUEZ: Well, I've been watching Michael Stanton since he was in rookie ball, and every year, I mean, you can tell, he's just getting better and better and making big strides. And I think that we are going to see that and we are going to have a chance to see Michael Stanton during Spring Training, and the improvement that he's going to make from one year to another, it's going to be huge.
I'm sure that right now in the off-season, he's working on every detail of the game, especially on the offensive side. I'm very confident that Michael Stanton is going to make the adjustment.
Q. What other things have you been involved with back in Puerto Rico, because you've become a Major League manager, what other things have you been involved with? Have you done any speeches or gone to any dinners?
EDWIN RODRIGUEZ: Well, I've been having a lot of speeches and I've been trying to be involved on everything that helps to develop baseball in Puerto Rico, like having some meetings with the trainers and coaches, and just letting them know my experience and what it takes. Not only to be a Major League player or coach or manager, but also what it takes to be successful in everything you want to do.
Q. Has that picked up more since you've become a manager? Is your time being occupied more on these sorts of things?
EDWIN RODRIGUEZ: Yes, I would say yes. But I was planning on that, and I've been doing that way before I was named big league manager, spending time with the coaches and players. Down in Puerto Rico. But now that I've got the title, people pay more attention to whatever I say, you know how it is (chuckling).
But I've been doing that and I'm very concerned about how not only how we are going to develop, not only baseball in Puerto Rico, but how we are going to find a way to develop good human beings and good citizens in Puerto Rico through sports.
Q. Have you given much thought to where you might slot --
EDWIN RODRIGUEZ: Right now depends how they are going to slow up in Spring Training. I know JJ is going to be No. 1 and after that, we have to take into consideration that Ricky Nolasco is a big part, I would say last month of the season. So that, I think we have to wait and see how everything plays out, how they will show up in Spring Training.
But right now, I would say that JJ, Ricky, Javi and Volstad, and that might change.
Q. I know you didn't spend a full year with Ronny Paulino but what were positives you saw from him and did he wear down at the end?
EDWIN RODRIGUEZ: I think the whole situation with Paulino, as a matter of fact, the Mets are getting a very good player and Ronny Paulino, the fact that he knew even while he was playing, his situation; that he had a chance to be suspended. I think that's what affected him on the field.
Yeah, maybe because he was playing on an every day basis; that also took a beating on him, but I think he would be able to handle the every day wear down and tear of the situation.
I think it was more the mental side that really got him tired.
Q. Meaning there was a period of time where he knew he might be suspended until he was and that was wearing on him because he knew about it and was still playing?
EDWIN RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, he knew about it, and I think that -- I mean, it took a lot of energy from him, worrying about this whole situation. But physically, and talent-wise, I think that he was able to have good years.
Q. What are your feelings about Omar joining your club and how you can utilize him?
EDWIN RODRIGUEZ: I mean, we are getting a very good player, not only defensively but offensively. He's a baseball player. I mean, he's played different positions. He can do a lot of things. And that will give us, along with Emilio, a lot of versatility in that roster. So we can use Omar in different positions and we can use Emilio in the same way, so as a manager, especially managing in the National League, that will give you a lot of relief and a lot of options.
So that's what Omar brings to the team.
Q. Can you see him as an every day player?
EDWIN RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, definitely, I think that he already showed that he will be able to handle the everyday situation. And I think he's going to have a solid, solid year, you know, being out there, either as a second baseman or third baseman.
Q. Have you heard from Hanley at all?
EDWIN RODRIGUEZ: We have text each other, and he's very excited. Even when we signed Javier Vazquez, he knows, and I think that he knows even before the season was over last season, and he was committed to be very strong and prepare himself for the next season. That's why I expect a lot from him this year, 2011, not only on the field but also on the field. We are going to need his leadership, along with John Buck, because we have a very young team.
I think that Hanley Ramirez is going back to the 2009 form for the next season.
Q. What kind of things would you like to see from Hanley off the field in terms of leadership?
EDWIN RODRIGUEZ: I think consistency. I want him to show a lot of energy on an everyday basis, making routine plays, and being a little bit more vocal with the young players in a positive way. So those are the things that I expect from him, and obviously, you know, the performance on the field. But I think that he is capable of doing all of that. And he wants to do all of that.
Q. Do you think he can be more vocal in the clubhouse and stuff?
EDWIN RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, definitely I think he would be that. He has the knowledge. He's not only a smart baseball player, but he's also smart overall, on and off the field. He knows what is going on, so if he wants to, he can take that team and that leadership role, and he can do a very good job doing that.
Q. Do you think his pride was a little hurt because he was a batting champion in 2009?
EDWIN RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, his pride was hurt. When you have that kind of talent like Hanley Ramirez and you don't see yourself at the top of the best hitters in the League, it's going to hurt. Your pride is going to hurt, your feelings, and I think that that's how he felt last year in the season, and then missing the last I think three weeks of the season, also, was a factor, and he was a little bit frustrated.
That's why adding everything, I think that's why I'm pretty sure he's getting ready for the next 2011 season and starting in Spring Training, he's going to be able to take that leader role.
Q. With Dan gone now, how much more will Hanley have to do to make up for that?
EDWIN RODRIGUEZ: I think not only on the numbers, but also he has to be aware that along with John Buck, they are the most experienced players on the field, so he is going to have to help regarding the positioning of the players, and regarding the every day -- the every day situation where they have a long season, they have to come ready to play on an every day basis.
I think that having Hanley going through that, that's why I want him to be more vocal and express his opinion.
Q. Why are you convinced that Coghlan can be so good?
EDWIN RODRIGUEZ: I have managed Chris Coghlan for four years now. So I know not only his physical abilities of what he's capable of doing but also his makeup. Don't tell Chris that he can't do anything because he will take that personally, and I'm sure that he knows that there's a lot of concern about him playing center field, and I'm sure right now that he's getting ready, not physically, but mentally ready to play the position.
And I have no doubt that because of his baseball sense, his instincts for the game, he's a very good, smart baseball guy; the position is going to be in part for him and he's going to be a very solid center fielder.
Q. Can you envision a situation where you would throw Boni out in center field for defense?
EDWIN RODRIGUEZ: No, like I said, I'm very comfortable with Chris Coghlan playing center field and I'm sure he's going to be able to handle all of that.
Q. Do you want Chris to just worry about center?
EDWIN RODRIGUEZ: Oh, yeah, I want him to be aware that he's going to be out there for nine innings on an every day basis and playing center field.
End of FastScripts