Rodriguez/Figueroa pregame interview March 8

Q. Last night the press was announcing that the Puerto Rican starter on Sunday was going to be Orlando Roman.  Is there any change, or is that rotation still the same?

EDWIN RODRIGUEZ:  No, it is official.  Figueroa is going to be pitching tomorrow against Venezuela, and Orlando Roman would be pitching against Dominican Republic on Sunday.

The decision was made based on after seeing Venezuela's lineup yesterday, seeing Dominican Republic's lineup, we believe that Nelson Figueroa is the one who could pitch more effectively against Venezuela, and Orlando Roman against Dominican Republic.

Q.  Edwin, yesterday Sojo was talking about that after yesterday's game was delayed because of the rain, and the Anibal Sanchez situation, they received a call from the Detroit Tigers saying that they did not want him to be used again.  Tony also commented that there was some kind of communication from the San Diego Padres in the case of Edison Volquez.  For you guys as managers, how difficult and how much does it complicate your job having to be subject to a great extent to the Big League teams making decisions for you, decisions that in a regular game or in a regular season you would make without having to consult or receive authorization from a team that is not even here with you all in this tournament?

EDWIN RODRIGUEZ:  Well, that's a good question.  Yesterday's specific situation, I believe the game stopped for a period of almost an hour.  Usually in any game that is being played here or in the Classic or whatever, or in a regular season, after 30 minutes that the pitcher has stopped pitching, you start questioning whether to start him up again or get him out of the game.  After 40 minutes it's automatic that the pitcher should not go back out to pitch.

But yes, the other part that you're asking me, yeah, well, the Major League teams have been quite flexible, giving us the space to work with the guys, with their players, taking into consideration first that they're part of a Major League team.  They count on those players, and are some investments that they have to protect.

But it is difficult for the managers sometimes.  It's difficult to try to manage a game under those conditions, but I believe that most of the time they don't have conditions that are not beyond what is usual in baseball.

Q.  Yesterday the manager Tony Peña indicated that Miguel Cabrera was not going to beat them, and the pitchers had a game plan against him.  Does Nelson have a plan to pitch against Miguel Cabrera?

EDWIN RODRIGUEZ:  Well, every game is unique.  Every situation is unique.  I mean, to make decisions in a game, in this case Tony or Luis Sojo and myself, we make decisions based on the staff that we have.  I mean, maybe in the same situation we'll have to make a different decision because of the staff that I have available.  Maybe Tony's staff is different.

I mean, you do take it game by game, inning by inning, and maybe there are decisions that may not be common in a regular season.  We have to adapt to the nature of the conditions and the tournament, and the nature of that is you develop your strategy.  That's why maybe there will be some moves that in a regular season it's done in a certain way, but in a tournament like this, they may not be very usual.

Q.  I would like Nelson to talk a little bit about Venezuela and facing Miguel Cabrera.

NELSON FIGUEROA:  Well, for a pitcher like me, I want to face the best and I want to show that I can get them out.  But every decision is not only in my hands.  I mean, there are some times that the manager wants to walk someone to load the bases and to try to get a double play, and I have to keep that ability of being professional.  If we believe that it's better for the team, I'm going to do it.

But there is no plan to face them all, and if the bases are full and if it's better to walk him and score a run, rather than with a home run and score four ‑‑ that happened with Barry Bonds and hasn't happened again.  I'm going to try as best as I can to get as many outs as I can.          

In certain matchups you have to be careful.  I mean, the numbers are the numbers, and he's one of the best.  I want to get him out.

Q.  Nelson, in less than 48 hours they switched your opponent, when you had totally been prepared to face Dominican, which is maybe a team that you know better than Venezuela.  How do you take this?  And second, Edwin, it seems that since yesterday the first question of the press that has come from abroad is, why are there less Puerto Rican players in the U.S.?  And there's a large baseball shortage in Puerto Rico.  How does it feel to face this kind of question every time somebody asks it?

NELSON FIGUEROA:  To me when the plans changed, there's no problem.  I mean, I'm thinking I was going to pitch in the first game, and I was told that the last game it's going to be Dominican Republic, now they told me maybe it's better against Venezuela.  I'm a pitcher, if you put me in in the first inning I'm a starter; if you put me in at the end I'm a closer.  I can get three outs in each inning and each game.  If I could pitch in all three games, I'd want to, but when I get a chance I'm going to pitch.

EDWIN RODRIGUEZ:  One of Nelson's qualities because of his years in baseball, the many years he's been in baseball, it's his way to adapt, and there are few pitchers that have the ability that Nelson has, and that's why it's a value that he has, his skills as a pitcher.

The question that you asked me with regards to the decrease in the quality or maybe in the amount of players ‑‑

Q.  How do you feel when they ask you the question?

EDWIN RODRIGUEZ:  Every time they've asked me the question I would say the last three, four years, every time I sit down they ask me that kind of question.  Really it doesn't even ‑‑ I don't get upset.  I mean, it gives me a chance to give the opinion that I have because of the many years that I have in baseball experience and working with the guys here in Puerto Rico.  It doesn't bother me.  To the contrary, I see it as an opportunity of giving information and an opportunity to create awareness of what's going on in the development of baseball players in Puerto Rico.

Q.  Nelson, you're more familiar against the Dominican team, pitching in the Dominican Republic.  Is there any change in your preparation because you're not pitching against the Dominican Republic?

EDWIN RODRIGUEZ:  Well, he was officially there yesterday, but now he's officially to pitch against Venezuela.

NELSON FIGUEROA:  The thing is that for me pitching against Santo Domingo and knowing the batters a little bit better than Venezuela, and I have played there, it's done.  And the opportunities of pitching against them, they know the emotions that are there, that competition that I have with them.  That's why I play there in the winter league.  You have to give the most of yourself in every game against them.  And if it's a game like Santiago against Licey in front of 20,000 people, and it's just a Sunday in November, that's motivation.  You don't see it anywhere else in the world.  And the Dominican fans, they know the feelings that I have for them.

Q.  Are the plans to stay with Soto, or is there going to be another change?

EDWIN RODRIGUEZ:  Yeah, we're going to try to keep Giovanni because the thing is in every case, every pitcher is unique; how many pitches they threw last time they pitched, when is his turn to pitch, what his preparation has been, who's more prepared to pitch more innings.  And up to now we're going to keep Nelson pitching against Venezuela, then it would be Giovanni Soto following Nelson.