Tony Pena Interview March 12 2013

Q. Obviously you have a star studded type team going against kind of a underdog team. How do you keep the guys grounded and on a mission?

TONY PEÑA: Well, we want to make sure everybody understands. When we play teams, they play tough. They play just very tough. And I try to make sure they pass the message. In baseball, there is no easy enemy, there is not an easy team. Anybody can win a game. Anybody can beat you. So try to concentrate and try to play the game the way it's supposed to be played.

Q. Are you surprised that baseball in Europe is so strong because Italy is in the second round?

TONY PEÑA: If you see the game that everybody is playing, they have a lot of players that have played in the Big Leagues. It's not necessary that you have to go to Italy or the Netherlands for you to play. You only have to have a relative to come from there. If part of your family has a root out of these countries, you are allowed to play in those countries. In a case like Nick Punto, Drew Butera, these guys are born and raised here in the United States, but their family has roots in Italy. They have a great team.

Q. (Inaudible).

TONY PEÑA: We don't feel that way. I think the favorite team is the U.S. team, but we are happy that everybody (inaudible). Each one of the guys is going to be there pitching since we left the Dominican Republic to come here. We know we have a bit of a hole with the opening pitching, but the bullpen pitching is stable and I'm not afraid to use any of those boys.

Q. What are your impressions of Fernando Rodney so far, both on the field and the spirit that he has?

TONY PEÑA: He's been great. Fernando, everybody knows what type of pitcher he is. He's a guy that has a great confidence. He has fun, and also after the number of games that he saved last year, he was willing to carry over. Right now we have seen Fernando running, throwing like in the mete form of the season the way he's throwing the ball right now. He's throwing the ball real, real well.

Q. Are you surprised how well the Italian and Dutch teams have played?

TONY PEÑA: I answered that in England, but I didn't answer it in Spanish. As I said before, I was not surprised. I was not surprised the way they played because Netherlands and Italy, their players, they don't play baseball in Major Leagues and they're considered weak leagues. They have many Major League players there. They are not an underdog, but they do have good baseball players.

So the question is for the rotation for everybody. I want to have everyone play, and maybe you will see the rotation. I put Tejada in third base, and Hanley hasn't played shortstop, and I have to put him at shortstop. I want them to participate. I want everybody to have a voice about what this is about, not only for us as baseball players but also for the Dominican Republic and for each of us whose patriotism goes way beyond a baseball game.

Q. The Dominican Republic did very well in the first three games of the Classic. Is there anything that gives you a headache about the Dominican team, anything that gives you any doubt or makes you mad?

TONY PEÑA: No, I've always -- I'm always a person who's said that you give me 28 doers, I'm going to get the best out of those 28 doers, and I'll get the best out of these 28 players that I have. And I feel happy about the way they have taken advantage of the game, the way they have taken advantage of this Classic and I have no complaint.

Q. I'm talking about we have seen a big change in the Dominican Republic, they are more arrogant and more fun. You can notice they're having a lot of fun. They are now in the fight, and four years ago they came out of the tournament.

TONY PEÑA: I'm having fun. I'm having fun. And if they see that the manager is having fun, they cannot help but enjoy themselves. I don't want a tense team acting as robots. We have human beings and we have to find a way to enjoy what they are doing, and that's what these kids are doing, they're enjoyable every moment.

Q. How do you feel about Tejada playing?

TONY PEÑA: Well, he could not be left out. Miguel Tejada is one of the players whose star has not stopped rising in the Dominican Republic, playing every year, representing the country in the Caribbean Series, and so he always stays present. So do we take the food out of his mouth? No, even if he's in a wheelchair, he has a lot to contribute to baseball.

Q. The importance of the first game is the game as in Puerto Rico, practically double, because you rest on the second day and then you play against the winner of the second game looking for classification. In view of this reality, how is Tony Peña going to handle this game?

TONY PEÑA: We are going to be aggressive. We'll take the lead, I'll take the horses, and I'm going to use the horses the same as I did in the first that's our key point. The strong point of the Dominican team is the bullpen, and if we have a lead we have to keep that lead.

Q. In a baseball game you win or lose, but the Dominican Republic is the clear favorite. How can you make the kids aware, especially the pitchers, that the rifle is worth it, to make them aware that there is a dangerous rifle?

TONY PEÑA: I already talked about that question, but definitely there are no weak enemies, as I said before. The kids are focused and we are not going to play a game just to be there, overconfidently. We have to play hard because they are going to play against us. That's one thing that the guys know and they are sure about that.

Q. Do you have your Game 2 starter? And what are kind of the challenges of the pitch count and working with those starting pitchers?

TONY PEÑA: I do not have a second starting pitcher. I would choose whoever is going to start on the run. It will be whoever I do not used to. That might be the guy who's going to start. But for me to tell you that I'm going to start anybody, I would lie to you, because we only carry three starting pitchers, and those three starting pitchers are Wandy Rodriguez, Deduno, and Volquez. I have three guys that I can use any of those three guys. I don't know, but it's going to be one of those three guys. Whoever I don't use, I'll use them in the second game and go from there.

Q. Has the pitch count presented any kind of issues for you guys?

TONY PEÑA: Well, the pitch count, no. We've got Volquez. Everybody is allowed to go in the second round 85 pitches. We're going to manage every single one of our guys. We are here to win, but we are not going to blow anybody's career. We are not going to put any players in jeopardy. We are here to take care of them, even if they want to pitch. It's up to us to stop it.

Like the other day, Volquez, he threw one inning, he threw 13 pitches, and he wanted to go back out after 45 minutes rain delay. That was my responsibility to stop it, and I did it. I stopped him because I need to take care of them. I need to watch their career.