We have to tip our hats to the quality of the pitchers, the Dominican Republic pitchers. I believe that we also have to tip our hats to the Puerto Rican pitchers and such a powerful lineup, when you have Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz and only to limit them to four runs, you have to give credit to those pitchers.
Q: You mentioned that you limited them to four runs. Puerto Rico if you saw the roster you could see it was a good lineup, but your team played good and that's why they're in the second round. Give me the evaluation of that pitching and if you expected that kind of performance in this first round of the Classic.
EDWIN RODRIGUEZ: Well, I was hopeful of that kind of action, but when you have so many young guys on the pitching staff, you don't know how they're going to react, you don't know how they're going to react before 20,000 fans. I am very happy and I am very hopeful that that staff did well to keep us in the competition. Really seven runs in 27 innings I believe it was -- I mean, I feel quite hopeful about the pitchers because we know we are going to score runs. If you look at our lineup, we are going to score runs. But with the pitchers and young arms, they did a great job.
Q: The defeat means that you're going to face the USA in your first game in Miami. Give us an evaluation of that, whether you think it's an advantage or disadvantage having to face the USA first.
EDWIN RODRIGUEZ: Well, really when you just finish playing a round like we played where we had the Dominican Republic lineup and Venezuela's lineup, really I believe that we've passed one of the toughest tests in the first round. From now on we are not surprised about any lineup that may come up. I believe that Venezuela's lineup and Dominican Republic itself, we faced the most powerful in the whole Classic, in the whole tournament of the Classic, and we've gone through that and we've done quite well.
So the lineup of Team USA, it's strong, but I believe that the kids passed the test.
Q: You said a few days ago that your best pitcher is Nelson Figueroa after Javier Vazquez left. But Nelson is not going to pitch on Tuesday. What is the pitching plan against a very difficult USA lineup?
EDWIN RODRIGUEZ: Well, he's the number one pitcher that we had after Javier Vazquez was not able to pitch. I had to bring up Nelson Figueroa because of his experience in the Big Leagues, but we saw what Orlando Roman can do against the Dominican lineup, and Nelson Figueroa is scheduled to pitch at some point in time in the second round. On Tuesday there is Mario Santiago, we have a fresh bullpen and we'll see how the guys in the bullpen keep us in the game.
So I believe that the guys after the first round, the team on the field is very hopeful, and that bullpen is going to keep us in the competition.
Q: The history with the USA in Classics is quite feisty after everything that has happened. Does that influence you going into the next game? And does it also influence the political situation that exists between Puerto Rico and the USA?
EDWIN RODRIGUEZ: Well, games against Team USA are always we bring a little more intensity to the game. But I understand that even against Venezuela and Dominican, the mood in terms of competition has always been very high, too.
So I don't believe it's going to be different with Team USA. We want to beat Team USA, we want to beat Team Italy, we want to beat Team Dominican Republic, and I believe the intensity and the mood will not change regardless of who we face.
Q: Are you satisfied with the job that the bench players did, looking at today as a big test?
EDWIN RODRIGUEZ: Well, I am very satisfied with the players from number 1 to 28. We saw it in the training games, we gave a chance to everybody to evaluate them, and we saw them in these three games in the first round, which was when it counted. And before a full house, they responded quite well. The at bats were quite good.
Yes, I believe the confidence was a little bit higher than when the tournament started. When the tournament started there were a lot of questions, and the questions have been answered, and now it's a matter of realizing that this is where they belong, and they have to play at this level, and it's a matter of their talent to manifest itself.