Team Netherlands Interview March 11

An Interview With:

TEAM NETHERLANDS

            Q.         Congratulations, it is such a tough game, and you won against Cuba.  What's the first thought when you got the out?

            HENSLEY MEULENS:  Well, thank you very much.  The first thought was like I told the guys before the game, the better team will win, so the better team won this game tonight.

            Q.  In Japan, that's a saying, it's easier said than done.  What was the key to beating Cuba again and again and clinching the division?

            HENSLEY MEULENS:  Well, the guys came together as a group today.  We were hit with a bunch of injuries today, starting yesterday with Balentina getting hit in the wrist and not able to start the game today.  We got injuries during the game today with Balentien, he came out of the game after his first at‑bat and then Caster (ph) going down with another injury coming out of the game.  So we really relied on Kalian (ph) and Bogaerts, and Bogaerts who had a rough tournament but came up with a big hit there in that ninth inning to stretch the inning and give us a chance to come off and get the sac fly.

            That's why we won.  The guys were resilient, they stick together, and when we needed it more, they got together as a group in the dugout and they weren't going to guy.  Even when they scored the two runs to go ahead in the eighth, they were not going to die and they came back one more time, this guy on my right, Simmons, what a great player ‑‑ he's going to be good for a long time and came up big again and that's why we beat the guys again.

            Cuba played a good game, but you know, again, we played the better game.

            Q.  What is in your mind after you hit the home run, a late‑inning pressure situation I guess?

            ANDRELTON SIMMONS:  I was just trying to not let my team down.  I know we had a couple injuries and I felt like I had to step up.  I was looking at the pitcher and he was coming in with the same pitch, and he left one ‑‑ I couldn't miss it.  I was really happy to tie the game.

            Q.  Hitting the game‑winning sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth, what were you ‑‑

            KALIAN SAMS:  I tried to get the ball up in the air and they were playing up and in, so happy I put the ball in play and we got a run.

            Q.  You turned a new page in the history of the Netherlands.  Any thought for the final round?  And also you play against Japan tomorrow, as well.

            HENSLEY MEULENS:  I can look back to two historic days before this one, and one of them was part of beating the Cubans in the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, and the other one was becoming world champion for the first time in the history of Dutch baseball in 2011 against Cuba again in Panama.

            And this is No. 1, the best game that the Dutch has ever played.  Coming from behind, tieing the game up, and taking the game in the bottom of the ninth, I think this game will go down in the biggest game in Dutch history so far; more to come.

            Q.  You missed two key players, injured during the game, is Balentien able to play tomorrow?  What's his condition right now?

            HENSLEY MEULENS:  Well, I don't know if he's going to be able to play tomorrow.  Those leg injuries, he's strained a quad muscle in his left leg, and you know, we have to see the treatment the rest of tonight and tomorrow and get some more testing done if he is able to play again or what the severity of the injury is.

            Right now, I can't answer that question yet.  But I can tell you, when you have leg injures, usually you've got to take a couple days off before you can get back if the field.  We are not going to risk his season and we are not going to risk him being ache to play for us again in the semifinals.

            What we are going to do is leave it in the hands of the doctors and the trainers and let them decide when he can return back to the field.

            Q.  Tell about /TKPWAOUSry [|] who is also injured during the game?

            HENSLEY MEULENS:  Yes, he found a pop at the bottom of his foot.  That sounds a little bit more severe than Balentien's but also he's going to go in for some testing tonight when we get back to the hotel to find out what exactly happened.

            I don't have that answer either right now as he has not taken a test yet or X‑rays to see what exactly happened, if it's the bottom of his foot is heeled or his Achilles area.  So as soon as we know later on tonight, we'll inform you guys exactly what happened to him.

            Q.  You showed some great daring, and I guess adventure on the bases, and for Simmons, sliding into first base, and for Sams, the running from second on the ground ball to short, and what were you feeling at that instance, and when you saw him taking off from second, what was your feeling?

            ANDRELTON SIMMONS:  Normally you would go outside, but I saw a bigger space inside, so I went inside and tried to avoid the tag, just get my leg up to the base and it worked out good.

            KALIAN SAMS:  As soon as I got on the base paths I was going to score and try to score more runs.  I saw a low chopper and my first instinct was to go right away to third base, and hit it.

            HENSLEY MEULENS:  Both these guys have green lights, and if they are not stopped, they are free to run.  I know the kind of athletes they are, and great instincts, they know when they can make it.  We have one incident prior to this one where Andrelton (ph) was thrown out at third for the first out and he tried to steal third in another game he was thrown out, he was safe but they called him out.

            So I always tell them, with one out, you can go.  If you have no outs or two outs, you can't get a last out, so they kept that in mind on the base paths and I don't mind it at all.  If I don't stop them, they are free to go and that's why they were running all over the place today because they saw the opportunities where they can make it and they did.

            Q.  You are the hitting coach for the San Francisco Giants, and you are representing ‑‑ you are coming back to San Francisco as a skipper of the Netherlands, and also as being coach for San Francisco, how do you feel about it?

            HENSLEY MEULENS:  Well, it's quite special to be honest with you.  When I was approached to become the manager of this team, I have to go through my owner and my GM and my manager to ask permission to leave spring training and go to this job.

            They were all very happy that I came to ask, because as the finals was being played there, you know, they want us to participate in it and they want the Giants to be on the field once the semifinal games are being played and the final games are being played.

            So they are all up for it.  I have a great assistance in Joe Lefebvre in camp right now taking care of the hitters and we have the Minor League staff also there, the coaches and instructors and we have a couple of our guys that are coming to camp to help with the hitters while I'm not there.

            So I left him with a program of what to do for four weeks, so it wasn't a week or two.  I said I'll be gone for four weeks, so it came true, I'll be gone for four weeks and I'm so happy that I can be representing the Giants and the Dutch in San Francisco next week.  Is.

            Q.  Until the last game, how do you manage your team's mental strategy, after being beaten badly?  How do you switch the players mental, not knowing if you're going to play tomorrow, how do you manage late‑inning pitching situations?  Do you send the pitchers?

            HENSLEY MEULENS:  Well, the first part of the question is, after a tough loss we have to turn the page and I told the players to flush that game, the game is gone and we can't think about it, and we have to come out today and try to win this game.

            And like before we went out before batting practice and stretched, I gathered a group in the tunnel down here and I said, you know, there's two things that are going to happen tonight.  We are going to win and continue or we are going to not win and everybody is going to go their own ways and we'll see each other down the road sometime, but which one do you prefer.

            Do you want to win and celebrate tonight and continue or do you want to continue and go home.  My feeling was that we needed to play with intensity and we immediate to play hard and we need to play with commitment, and that's what they did.  They never gave up and kept coming back and even through the adversity of injuries during the game tonight, these guys kept coming back and making plays and getting big hits and making big pitches with some very, very aggressive hitters from the Cuban team.

            I tip my hat to the team.  They did exactly what we talked about before the game what I asked them to do is how they did it to get this win and we are going to San Francisco.

            Second part of your question, when you have pitch count, it's tough to manage games that might go into extra innings, but it was a do‑or‑die game, and we had to pitch longer and make sure that we didn't leave guys in the game too long.  That's why you see me go to the mound to go get him, because he had a low pitch count still and but he had not pitched in a while, and he was getting the pitch up and I had to make a switch to give a different view of what was coming in.

            Same thing with Marcus, I gave us great middle of the game innings and got us into the 8th inning, and again, he kind of ran out of gas.  He walked the first guy and gave up a base hit and I brought Boyd in which is usually a seven to eight inning guy that pitches good in the international games.  He didn't have it today.  He gave up rockets, one after the other, base hit with two strikes and he gave up a line drive with two strikes for a sac fly and he got out of the inning, they score two runs.

            And I say, well, thanks to this guy, we tie the game in the bottom of the eighth, I said, I've got to come to my closer because he is a guy that throws hard and gives them a different look.

            Luckily it worked out tonight and we had three or four guys we could use in the bullpen tonight, but we are going to have to use them tomorrow.