An interview with Luis Sojo & Miguel Montero

Q. In the first World Classic, you faced a situation like the one that you're going to have tomorrow, the elimination, only at that time the teams were Italy and Australia, as opposed to this week Puerto Rico, which is the host. What did you learn from that chance that you could use as an experience for this one? And how is the team's mood to face that game tomorrow after such a difficult defeat as last night?

LUIS SOJO: Well, look, the mood is good. Mood wise this is a team that's fine. We have no problem at all, and there's no tomorrow. We have to go with that mentality of playing baseball good, to execute. As I've always said, we've got the people there, we've got the group of players that have experience, people who know how to play ball, and what we have to do is do things right to get victory.

Q. After one inning Anibal Sanchez had a three run deficit. What positive aspects can you use after a defeat like last night?

LUIS SOJO: Well, baseball is winning and losing. What happened? Well, Dominican Republic executed. They did things right. We had a chance when we were 5 3. The mentality was fine. The environment got interesting in the dugout. But as I said last night, we have to give credit to them because they made the right pitches, the necessary ones, to get outs.

It was a game that in the first, second and third inning, the Dominican Republic got their runs, and that's where it got out of hand, and when you don't execute in this game, things are not going to come out right.

Q. Baseball is usually a long season when it comes to Major League games. Here you're facing a different situation. How do you see that reality of tomorrow you've got to win to

MIGUEL MONTERO: Well, I think ever since we got here, we've never thought about tomorrow; we were always thinking about today, today, winning today and not tomorrow. It was a hard loss yesterday. The game opened up quite quickly in the first inning and we were behind for three innings and then we get two runs. But yesterday is the past. We can't fix it. Now we have to face the reality, which is to go play tomorrow and try hard to win and play better baseball, and that is the key. I believe that if we do the little things, if we make the routine plays, things will be different.

As I told you yesterday, I think they took advantage of their opportunities, Dominican Republic, their chances, when they had runners on base. They did their job. We left a lot of runners on base, and it took us some work to tie or to do something.

But tomorrow is another day, and we're going to come here tomorrow to win.

Q. I want to ask you if you thought of any change in the lineup for tomorrow or if you had that already decided or if you're still waiting to write up that lineup?

LUIS SOJO: Well, I'd like to talk about the situation in the game, what happened last night. The lineup is something technical that I will talk about with the coaching staff, and tomorrow we will be clear on what the lineup will be.

Q. Will Carlos Zambrano stay as the pitcher tomorrow?

LUIS SOJO: Correct.

Q. And the second question, Anibal Sanchez did not reach his pitch limit. Would he be available for that game?

LUIS SOJO: No, not tomorrow. Anibal is ruled out. Anibal may be for the game against Spain, he may be available. We have no doubt that that he will be so. However, we'll determine there are so many restrictions. We have to talk with the people of Major League Baseball. He only threw 20 pitches, and this is a tournament that we have to monitor all of these Major League players, and in one way or another have the permission from the people in charge, in this case Major League Baseball, with their respective organizations. Zambrano is confirmed for tomorrow. He should pitch well.

Q. Miguel, we see the game plan was with Dominican Republic was going to pitch around Miguel Cabrera. How do you and the rest of the lineup think of that situation, to try to capitalize on the opposing pitching?

MIGUEL MONTERO: Well, not only with Dominican Republic, that will pitch around Miguel Cabrera, it's all the teams on the other end. We are there all to cover our backs. Our job is that, to support each one of us and do a better job. Unfortunately things didn't come out as we wanted, but we all know that it's not a secret that Miguel is going to be pitched around because we are all clear on that.

Q. You've done this for seven years now, managed this team. I'm wondering what the experience has been like for you in these seven years. Have you grown? Have you come to appreciate it? Have you experienced more difficulties? What's it been like from end to end here?

LUIS SOJO: It's a good run. Just privileged just to be in these Classics, manage this group of guys. This has been something great for me in my career. But the most important thing is to get the wins and make people in Venezuela happy. The role as a manager, there's a lot of things going on over the years, but you've got one thing to do, and that's get the job done. Just to get together with this group of guys have been great for me.

Over the years, like I said, 2006 was kind of different because no one knew was going on with the WBC, and in 2009 the guys came prepared and get the message, and they knew the importance to play for your country. This 2013 team has been in real good spirits for me because these guys make it easy. They called me, they called the committee, and they just want to represent the team.

You know, the previous two Classics, you've got to make a lot of phone calls, who wants to come? This year was different; they want to come. We don't have to make any phone calls, and it's been great.

Q. You said execution was important yet some things were missing. Are you guys going to tune into the things that you're going to work on, or is it going to be a general drill like always? Or did you talk later about the execution, tomorrow to play perfect with Puerto Rico and try to get ahead?

LUIS SOJO: Yes, there's a difference between a Minor League player and the Major League players. I am convinced that this group of players know what they did last night. This is not about they know, these are people who know how to make adjustments, and that's why they're playing the best baseball in the world.

We were talking about it, they were talking about it amongst themselves, maybe some mistakes, some errors, and that's something that as a player you have to mentalize it and take it to practice. Today is going to be a simple practice. The pitchers are going to work out in the bullpen. They're going to do that, and there will be a short BP, and to leave here and to rest because last night was a long night.

Q. (Inaudible).

LUIS SOJO: I don't know. That's the pitching coach, whoever is going to pitch in the bullpen and that kind of thing.

Q. For both of you, what do you all know about Orlando Roman and Giovanni Soto, who are going to be the two Puerto Rican pitchers tomorrow? Because none of them have pitched in the Major Leagues.

MIGUEL MONTERO: Well, we don't know anything. Well, at least I don't know anything, and the truth is that really, it doesn't really matter to me. Whoever pitches, all you have to do is swing at strikes, and if we keep on swinging at bad pitches, we're not going to do well. Whoever pitches, you have to swing at a good pitch.

LUIS SOJO: I do know because of the wonders of technology last night, I got onto YouTube. Roman, basically you see a pitcher, two pitches, fastball and slider. We were watching it on the way to the hotel. But by experience, they have experience; he played in Japan, also, and he throws strikes. He has the capacity to get outs.

We have to concentrate on swinging at good pitches.

Q. Miguel, you had the chance in the past of playing here with Ramón Hernandez, now you're here again. What does it mean for you? What learning or experiences can you share at this stage of your respective careers? And at the same time, what can you as a player share with a young catcher like Salvador?

MIGUEL MONTERO: Ramón helped me during the course of my career. Yesterday I asked for advice, I would ask him, because that's what we're all on the team for, to help each other out.

And I think really Salvador, he's a catcher that has quite a lot of talent. The first time I said it, I had the hope and feeling that he's going to be a good player. I mean, he's a guy that likes to work, he likes to ask questions, and he's in shape, which is an important thing.

And as far as Ramón, Ramón is a great teammate. He's a person who is available to help you out any time, and I think that he has the respect of all players and all the teams that he's played with.

Q. Obviously Venezuela needs a victory tomorrow to continue with some aspirations, but it would depend on what's going on on Sunday between the Dominicans and Puerto Ricans. There was a case in this Classic that there was a triple tie and a team with two victories was left out. How uncomfortable would it be with you guys as the subject of runs allowed and runs not allowed?

LUIS SOJO: Well, whatever we think, it's not about that. It's something that can happen. We cannot think about that. What we have to do is focus on winning tomorrow. I mean, that is the reality. We've got to win tomorrow to get to that situation. After that we'll see what will happen. But I mean, the focus that we have is to get there tomorrow, with the mind at ease, be loose, fresh, and try to get such an important victory.

Q. You mentioned that your job is to win games and to make the Venezuelan people happy. You've won some and you've lost some. I'm curious how you think about how the baseball public in Venezuela feels about you, and how different that is from when you were a player as a Yankee and a World Series champion, and what that's like to carry around, that responsibility?

LUIS SOJO: Well, when I was a player they loved me. When I come home in 2006 they started hating me. But I'm still a nice guy. I look at it that way.

Like I say, the people have so much passion for this game in Venezuela, and every time that you step on the field, it's all about winning games. In Venezuela they don't come to the game to watch a group of guys perform; they come to the ballpark to see your team win, and that's why they get so emotional, they get so frustrated when the teams don't perform. And after that, you know, hey, what people think about you, it's not that important because you've got a job to do. My job is to represent my country, do the best I can to make these people happy. Unfortunately you win and lose, and when you win, you are a hero; when you lose, they're not going to like you. Trust me.

Q. Henderson Alvarez is one of the young talented pitchers in Venezuela. For the Marlins fans who haven't had a chance to see him, what kind of player is he?

LUIS SOJO: Well, Henderson, there's no doubt in my mind that he's going to be a great pitcher in the Big Leagues. He proved last year with the Blue Jays what he's made of. I think the Marlins made a good addition. This kid knows how to pitch, and we're very fortunate to have him on this team. Like I say, we look forward for him to have a good performance tomorrow.

Q. Miguel, we got the feeling that yesterday many of the members of Venezuela in the first inning after that attack from Dominican maybe felt nervous because many of you were debuting in the World Classic, representing your country. In your position what went through your mind? Did you have mixed feelings, anxiety maybe?

MIGUEL MONTERO: Did you notice nervousness? How did you notice it? I mean, because they had three runs? I never noticed that. I never noticed any nervousness in any of the players. On the contrary, we had the confidence that we wanted to come back in the game and we wanted to win the game. I believe that if you noticed it, there are many times for many of us who participate in an event like this, I think that the majority has been in World Series, have been in playoff games.

And to come to an event like this is a different energy for us. You're playing for your country. You're playing for the public who you don't get to see every day. And I believe that nervousness, there wasn't any anywhere. What you may have noticed was blood boiling a little bit more than normal, adrenaline rushing a little bit faster, because at no time at all did I notice any nervousness.

As I told you before, the team, we never doubted that we could come back and turn the game around.