Puerto Rico Pregame Interview March 10

Q. Puerto Rico is going into the second round. What does that mean to you guys?

EDWIN RODRIGUEZ: Well, this is the third time that Puerto Rico goes to the second round. I believe that this time it's very significant because of the fact of the quality that we had in the first round. We're playing as a team, even though we've qualified, we have a game today against the Dominicans, and Puerto Rico is ready. We're ready to go out and win this game.

Q. The manager of the Venezuelan team was commenting that one of the biggest problems that they've had is they didn't have time to train. They were barely together for three days before the tournament started. Could you comment as to what the organization could do or the tournament could do so that the teams could have more time together and to be able to train and present a better product on the field?

EDWIN RODRIGUEZ: Well, it's difficult when we have teams that are made up of ballplayers who live in different countries, the U.S. and Latin America, and aside from that, they have an obligation with their respective organizations. It's difficult to train the team, I mean, together. Other teams have that advantage like the Asian teams, Cuba has that advantage that they've been playing together the whole year. And that's one of the things that we come into the tournament because Venezuela and Puerto Rico, we're in the same spot. We come into the tournament without practicing as a team, and it's difficult to fine tune a team in four days. I mean, it's something that is part of the nature of the tournament, and we have to deal with that.

Q. We know that the tournament is not over, but where do you place this in terms of your achievements in your career?

EDWIN RODRIGUEZ: Number one. Number one. Having managed the Marlins in the Big Leagues, having played in the Big Leagues, these are things that make you proud. But the victory that we had last night and what we've been able to get with this group of kids, I place this accomplishment number one in my professional career.

Q. The mentality of the team, I know that you guys want to win, but because it's a game and both teams have already qualified for the next round, it may be more difficult to get up as opposed to if it was an elimination game. Talk to me a little bit about how you keep the focus on the game. And would you favor a change in the format of this tournament?

EDWIN RODRIGUEZ: Well, first of all, we are working with the professionals, and they are trained that every time they get to the playing field, they have to give 100 percent. I believe that even though both the teams that are going to play today have qualified, when we are before 20,000 fans and we are each representing our countries, I believe that there would be no doubt that they are going to give 100 percent. I mean, not only because they are professionals, they are before a huge crowd, representing their country, and they're going to come out onto the field and they're going to try to win.

The second part, I haven't analyzed it, I haven't thought about it in terms of the current format or future format. I think that adding games would complicate the situation in terms of the permission and the availability of the baseball players themselves, because then it would require more time to play. And as the tournament currently is, the Big League teams, even if they say yes, many players for one reason or another, refuse to participate. If they expand the tournament in terms of games, we'll have less big name people.

Q. Tonight you have the Dominican team, but surely we have to start thinking about the round in Miami. Have you made a decision on the pitching rotation?

EDWIN RODRIGUEZ: Well, we haven't established it. The decision is not final. But yes, from the beginning we had Santiago to start the game on Tuesday, and we continue with that plan, and not because we are forced to, but rather because they have the quality, and when the team was coming together, we were looking for six starters because we knew that those six starters would be necessary.

So we are leaning more towards Mario Santiago than Andrés Santiago, but the decision is not yet final. But I want to clarify that it is not by obligation but rather it was established as so from the beginning.

Q. What was the message to the team after last night's victory and knowing that they have qualified for the second round? What did you tell the guys?

EDWIN RODRIGUEZ: Well, last night there was not much talking; we just celebrated. Today we're going to get together. We're going to pass the message. But they are very clear. The chemistry and how the guys have gotten together, they know very well that the philosophy from the beginning is that we've won, we've qualified for the second round, but we still have a game to go, and this is a situation that you have to go out to win.

This is not like a switch that you turn on and off. You have to go out to win, and the switch has to stay on. You have to go out to win because on Tuesday we have to go out to win, also, and we have to keep that aggressiveness and that way of playing.