Team Puerto Rico pregame interview March 11

Q. Edwin, two questions: You know the names on the United States team very well.

EDWIN RODRIGUEZ: With Edwin González, I think from now on the competition, the quality will be more consistent with the guys already in better shape, the players are in better shape. I think from now on, obviously the competition will get harder.

As far as their lineup, the Puerto Rican team, we have the advantage. We have to have Yadier Molina as a catcher for the National League and Medina for the National League whereby we can discuss and analyze the strategies for each batter.

Q. Edwin, what has been the extra ingredient that the team has to go to the second round? Most people were expecting, not everybody, but Venezuela and the Dominican Republic. What extra ingredient did you give to your team to go to the next round and break all the prognoses? 

EDWIN RODRIGUEZ: One element that has been the difference in us going to the second round, I have to say the technical team that could be put together, Ricky Warner, Rosado, Carlos Delgado, Joe Espada, Tony Valentin, Carlos Baerga, Lopez, I think that technical team is what allowed the guys to bring up their name, with training, with fundamentals, with such a short tournament. We are ready, have been given the right information. If I have to mention one element that made a difference, I think that's it.

Q. What's your feeling about coming back here to manage again, obviously managing Puerto Rico? And give me your summation of the bracket with the first game against the U.S.

EDWIN RODRIGUEZ: Well, first, it's a nice feeling. This is a big league stadium with big league players, and it's going to be my first time here managing, so definitely, it's a great feeling being here around people that I work with and around the friends that really support my being here, and the media, of course.

Talking about this bracket, we just came from a bracket that I think if you put the lineup, the Venezuela lineup and the Dominican lineup, they have to be if not the best, one of the two top lineups in the whole WBC. So we came from a very tough bracket. So from now on, I think that our pitching and our hitters, they feel more comfortable and more confidence, lets put it that way, more confident facing any hitters or facing any pitching. So we feel very comfortable with where we are right now.

Q. How do you put the U.S. up against those guys?

EDWIN RODRIGUEZ: Well, we're going to stay with the same approach, attacking the strike zone, and then when you compare the USA lineup with the Venezuela lineup, the Dominican lineup, they'll go head to head. When you have a Miguel Cabrera, Asdrubal Cabrera, Sandoval in the lineup, you have a pretty good lineup. And then the other side, when you put the Dominican team, when you have the Hanley Ramirez and the other guys, José Reyes, you're putting together a very good team. So right now we feel like that we can go we can compete against those guys. We already showed that in Puerto Rico. So we're going to keep doing the same.

Q. Mario, how do you plan an approaching the game?

MARIO SANTIAGO: I am preparing mentally from now to help our team to follow the best catcher of the Major Leagues and the world, and to prepare physically and mentally in order to attack the strike zone.

EDWIN RODRIGUEZ: The fingers they're going to put down, he's just going to follow them. He's pitching to one of the best catchers in the world.

Q. Mario, you have played quite a bit in Puerto Rico, in the league. Talk about pitching with Yadier.

MARIO SANTIAGO: Yes, that was the plan. Whatever he asks for I'm going to pitch because everybody knows that he's the best catcher in the world right now. I don't think I have to say no to any pitching, only to attack the strike zone, whatever he asks for, to throw it at the strike zone.

Q. One question: Do you think you are coming from home to have the public in your favor, and not having to travel, which happened to the United States that just came back from a long trip, could you say that you have an advantage starting in Miami?

EDWIN RODRIGUEZ: By having played in Puerto Rico, so home, all the games, even though some of the games we were visitors, we were home definitely. That's a big advantage when you have a full house and people are supporting you. But at the same time, we hope to have a good attendance from the Puerto Rican community here in Miami, but these are professionals and they are used to playing in friendly parks and parks where the fans are against them. So I don't think that anything is going to change, the motivation or intensity of the game.

Q. Eddie, how are you preparing with Gio González, the leader of the Major Leagues?

EDWIN RODRIGUEZ: Yes, as I told you, we have been facing good pitchers. On Saturday we faced Carlos Zambrano. On Sunday, Wandy Rodriguez, Octavio Dotel, Rodney, Casilla, so we've already gone through a good trial, a good test with the first round. With González we analyzed it, we established an attack plan. We keep on it. We have to be patient and stay with our game plan.