Venezuela postgame interviews March 9

Q. When we talked in Jupiter, you said that anything other than the title for this team would be a failure for you.  How disappointing is it to leave in the first round?

LUIS SOJO:  Extremely disappointing, I mean, sad, because this was not in the plans.  However, the reality is that, well, we are out of the tournament.  I have to congratulate the Puerto Rican team that played great baseball, and frankly just have to turn the page.

Q.  Out of all of the three editions of the Classic, do you consider this the most painful one?  And are you aware that people in Venezuela are going to say, well, why didn't the team win, and they're going to blame you?

LUIS SOJO:  Of course, it's the most painful one because I believe that we had a great ballclub with a good makeup, willingness from all, a positive attitude in the whole tournament.

As I said before, Venezuela is demanding some triumph.  Unfortunately things didn't come out as we wanted, but we have to move forward.

Q.  Your analysis today, pitching, batting, not blaming anyone, what's your analysis?

LUIS SOJO:  Analysis is, well, Puerto Rico played better baseball.  Figueroa, a man of great experience, kept us there for four or five innings, and then the young Soto and Romero who was the only one who got in trouble in the last inning.

We've got to tip our hats to them.  To stop an offense like Venezuela's is not easy at all, and these guys did it, and that's why they got the victory.

Q.  One of the things that you said in training was that it was the best team that you had seen, and that they were all ready.  What happened with an offense that only got 11 hits and scored very few runs and the defense kind of fell asleep?  Looking at that, what happened?  What happened in practice?  Why didn't they respond?

LUIS SOJO:  Believe me, if I had the answer, I would tell you.  But still, I don't believe it.  We cannot disregard a good job done by the Dominican pitchers and the Puerto Rican pitchers.  Baseball is a pitching game, regardless of the type of offense that you have.  If you don't make the adjustments against the pitching, it's going to be hard to make contact.  You've got to give credit to the pitching of Puerto Rico, which was excellent.

Q.  Taking into account the social situation that Venezuela is going through, a victory or a good showing in the World Classic, would it have helped to alleviate at least the people's tension?  Do you see it that way, that some way this failure in the World Classic reflects what Venezuela is going through right now?

LUIS SOJO:  Totally.  Totally Venezuela is a baseball country.  Especially at this time of crisis, the players themselves, they were talking, well, this could be some kind of support, something good for our country.  But baseball, we have to understand that baseball is an unpredictable game and you have to perform, you have to execute, and we didn't do it, and that's why we're out of the tournament today.

Q.  You are ahead 1 0, Sandoval's hit, it's 2 0, then there is a play where Asdrubal is thrown out at home and there is a lot of noise in the stadium because of the play.  It seemed from then on the momentum of the game changed.  Is that how you understood it, that the momentum had changed at that time because after Puerto Rico scored the two runs and tied the game the next inning?

LUIS SOJO:  No, I mean, it's a decision play.  We sent him home, and I go back to the word "execute".  Puerto Rico executed.  An excellent relay throw to the plate.  It was a bam bam play, as they say, and they took more advantage of it, they capitalized on it.

Q.  There were a couple of close calls made by the umpires.  Alex Rios' at bat, and Carlos González's at-bat.  What did you see in that play and what role do you think it played in the result of the game?

LUIS SOJO:  Well, Rios' at bat, all the players were upset because it was a good pitch right down the middle, and the umpire maybe didn't call it, and that was something that could have changed the game completely.  But that play was a play that happens every day.  This is the World Classic.  The focus has to be there.  The umpires, we can't really blame anybody.

Q.  Yesterday Montero was saying it was illogical to think the ballplayers were pressured, but counts of 2 0, 3 0, they would swing and they would not make good contact.  Did you notice them pressing a bit?

LUIS SOJO:  That's a question that you'd have to ask them because, I mean, I can't think for them.  I mean, I don't know.  But I did not see that.  I didn't see it.

I mean, Puerto Rico played better ball.

Q.  (Inaudible).  

LUIS SOJO:  All the players had a scouting report.  They had a report on Aviles. His report was to throw him off speed stuff in the beginning, as it was done.  The other one was over the plate and he took advantage.  When players have two strikes when you leave it in the middle, they'll make good contact.

Q.  Is that the pitch you're looking for, as the hitter?

LUIS SOJO:  Two balls and two strikes, the anxiety could have been there, but it's a question you would have to ask each one of them.  They are Big League players, and I have no sad thought about them because I know how they were mentally, I know what they wanted for our country, and unfortunately things didn't happen.

Q.  Is this the most difficult moment of your career as a manager, ballplayer?  And what will be Luis Sojo's future?  Would you want to manage this team?

LUIS SOJO:  This is a very difficult moment for my career.  I have gone through many sad moments in my career, but I've also gone through very glorious times and positive and good ones.  Of course I'm going to meet with the committee.  I don't know what the future is going to be.  I mean, it may be premature right now.  What I'm thinking is the defeat for all the Venezuelan ballplayers.  I saw them was with their heads down and sad because as I said, this is not in the plans.

But whatever Luis Sojo's future is, I'm always going to be a Venezuelan ballplayer.  I love my baseball, and all I want is the best for our country, and I understand it.  I know that there is talent, more than enough talent, to go to the selection, so I'm always going to be willing and able.  It's not going to be my decision.  Whatever they think, I'm willing and able, but you saw a group of coaches that they can do the job, and I'm always going to be willing and able.

Q.  I wanted to ask whether you had given thought to resigning after managing the Classic through three events, and whether you're thinking about making a statement because you've not only managed the Classic, but the Venezuelan team in the Olympics in each one of their competitions.

LUIS SOJO:  The word "resignation" does not exist in Luis Sojo's vocabulary, absolutely not.  Those who resign are losers.  But again, it's not my decision.  I'm going to be ready, willing and able.  I do have to say this in a meeting I had with the federation, with the committee, I said this group of coaches that I have, there may be a new manager, people who I respect, and that's why I chose them.  I knew that they would be willing and able.

But I mean, the most important thing is not about Luis Sojo, this is a country, a group of ballplayers who influences in this, and let's move forward because I think these conversations are going to come, I hope as soon as possible, because I am a baseball man.  As I said, I want to contribute to my country.

Q.  Do you believe now that it would have been better if you had Felix Hernández and Johan Santana on the mound?

LUIS SOJO:  Well, they were not available.  The game is unpredictable.  Maybe the rotation would have been different, but as I said, the ballplayers were all    had the best disposition when I talked with them, and for me that's important.  It's unfortunate not to have other pitchers in Felix's case or Johan's case, but they chose not to participate.  That is the reality, that maybe the teams put a lot of restrictions and all this, but you don't control that.  I mean, if I could have controlled it and said this is what I want regardless of what it is -- the reality is that was made in advance, we're going to sign a contract that says, we're not going to the Classic.