Tony Peña interview March 11

Q.  How do you feel about the Dominican Republic team that are undefeated?

            TONY PEÑA:  I feel extremely happy.  I think the boys have risen to the occasion, and taking the second step, I feel very proud.  The way we have played, those guys, they play with heart, and just to be in the second round does mean a lot, not only to me but also for everybody in this ballclub and also my country.

Q.  Italy surprised everybody by advancing to the second round.  What are your expectations for the game tomorrow against that team that nobody knew they were going to be there?

TONY PEÑA:  In baseball there are no weak teams.  You have to play the game every day the same way.  You still have to come out every single day and play the game the way it's supposed to be played.  You don't know ‑‑ we don't know anything about Italy, but for the reason, they passed, for the reason, they are here.  It's not like we're going to go out and are going to take them lightly.  We have to go out and play the game the way it's supposed to be played, because they can surprise anybody.

The same thing happened with Spain; we scored some runs, but we scored some runs because they walked a lot of people, but we didn't hit.  One of the things about the Baseball Classic with some of the teams that we don't know too much about it is that we don't know anybody, we have no rapport with some of those pitchers, and it makes it even tougher for a hitter because whenever you're facing a pitcher that you know what they have, it's easy because you can make the adjustment.  But whenever you face somebody that you don't know what they're throwing, it's tough to make adjustment, and that's what we're dealing with.

Q.  I was just wondering what from the first round you hope carries over beginning tomorrow for your team.

 TONY PEÑA:  Well, I think we have done really good all around.  We have been pitching well.  We have played great defense.  I think that's one thing that surprised me the most, the way we have played defense.  We are in Spring Training, and sometimes you see a lot of sloppy play on the field.  But it hasn't happened yet, and hopefully we can continue to carry over and continue to play the game with a lot of enthusiasm.

I think those guys are very, very, very concentrated, and those kids, they are on a mission.  In the past they went through it, and they don't want to talk about the past.  And that's one thing that everybody is concentrating on, just to come in, and it doesn't matter who you face, it doesn't matter who you face today, you still have to go out and try to win the game and try to do all the little things that we are capable of doing.

Q.  You are managing the Dominican team, not in the Big Leagues, but talk about being a leader.

TONY PEÑA:  I am the bench coach of the Yankees.  I know what my job is.  I'm not here ‑‑ I'm managing the Classic but not trying to find work.  No, I have my job, and I do it with a lot of passion, a lot of love, and when you're representing your country, you do it with great desire.  I am not here managing the Baseball Classic because I want to show everybody that I'm capable and I want to manage again.  I have a job, and my job is to be a bench coach for the New York Yankees right now.  I'm not going to be the coach.  I'm going to do the best because it is the way I am.

Baseball is my passion, baseball is my love, it's my hobby, and everything I do, I do with all my heart.  And even more when you represent your country.  What else I can ask?  I'm just going to enjoy myself.  I'm just going to enjoy every single moment of this Classic.

Q.  These are series that all you have been able to play are three games.  What does a leader do to have so many superstars to represent the country and not to focus on individual wallets of what they want or what they need to stand out?

TONY PEÑA:  When you have a constellation of stars such as the one that I have in my hand, you try hard to keep everyone happy.  And even more so, as you just said, when it's a short series, and in a short series you want to have everyone play.  As I told my team, there is no superstar here, everybody is the same here, we're only to do one thing, which is to represent our country and represent it as well as possible.  And I want each of you to feel that you're a part of it because I want all the players to understand and feel, because for a reason I asked each of them what's the reason that you are here.  And they told me the reason why.  So I have to give them something.  So you can tell in a series you are playing third base, Hanley Ramirez who hasn't played short stop.  You can also play Reyes.  On the left side, I have three players to see how they play.  On the other side, they'll be playing every day.

Q.  Can you talk about the authorizations for Adrian Beltre and Albert Pujols?  What happened with them?  Will they be able to play for the Dominican team?

TONY PEÑA:  They would like to, but in the Classic it's not so easy to mention any player.  Bautista and Pujols were injured, so for them to go back on the roster, a player has to get injured, and he has to be approved by a physician of Major League Baseball.

So if one of those guys is injured, he will be able to go in.  You can't substitute no players.  Under the rule, under Major League rules, whenever you're out, out of the roster, you're out.  Adrian Beltre, Bautista, and Pujols, even if they want to play ‑‑

Q.  Even though you need them?

TONY PEÑA:  Even if you need them, you have to have somebody hurt.  Somebody has to get hurt.  It's not easy to deal with those issues.

 But it's like I said before, the Dominican team is not the ideal team that we want to have, but I am really, really happy with those people, with the people, the players that I have.  I know a lot of guys want to come back, but it's going to be tough.

 Q.  After playing the past round, you guys are undefeated and one of the best teams so far.  How much are you satisfied with your players' preparation and focus on this tournament?

 TONY PEÑA:  I am very, very happy with where everybody is right now.  One tough thing is for you to put a ballclub together and keep this ballclub together and put this ballclub together and make sure that all those players go in the right direction in such a short period of time.

I think that unity in the ballclub is what is going to make this ballclub ‑‑ take this team to the next step, because they want to do it.  Every single day they work hard, every single day.  You can see how they help each other out.  There's no second‑guessing.  They're having fun, I'm having fun, and they have freedom.  Baseball is about freedom.  If you don't have freedom, if you make a mistake and you're going to kill somebody because they make a mistake, you have to put yourself in the mirror.  You are a human being, and they are allowed to make ‑‑ baseball is about freedom, and they have all the freedom to go out and play the game and keep it simple.

Q.  Who do you think is the team leader for this team?

TONY PEÑA:  Well, the first round was Venezuela, and they're out.  Puerto Rico, they have a really good team.  This round, United States, no question.  No question, United States is the ballclub to beat.  Puerto Rico has a really good team, but like I say, you are not here to take it lightly.  But those guys, the United States, have a real good team.

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