An Interview With: TONY PEÑA, CARLOS SANTANA

Q. The Dominican Republic has a bullpen that is as powerful as the U.S. What do you think about that?

TONY PEÑA: (From Spanish) the numbers are there on paper. You are not telling a lie. With respect to the bullpen, both teams have a good bullpen. We know what we have in front of us. We are going to go ahead and play our game.

CARLOS SANTANA: As Tony Peña says, we have a great bullpen. We know they have a good team. But as a catcher, I trust my bullpen since they have the experience. They have good pitching, and we trust in our bullpen.

Q. Tony, so far the Dominican team has not run many bases, stolen bases. Do you plan to use that type of game plan from now on, especially with the starter today?

TONY PEÑA: As I said, we want to play the game the way we want to play it. I want to have my runners where they can run, not running for the sake of running.

Unfortunately, the games that we played, the pitchers are doing 1-2, 1-5 for the home plate. So if I send runners to steal, it will be an out. He is the fastest man. He does one on one, 1-1-2 for the home. It's not that I'm going to run, but he's quite fast for the home.

Q. What's the plan today against Dickey? And is Miguel Tejada in the lineup today?

TONY PEÑA: (From Spanish) The plan is very simple: We are going to play our game. We are not going to change absolutely anything. I'm not going to take aggressiveness with our players because we are Latin and we do it that way.

And about Miguel, Miguel is playing.

Q. Carlos, the other day a lot of foul balls, foul tips. How were you feeling and were you thinking it's a little too early in spring to be getting knocked around a little bit?

CARLOS SANTANA: You know, the last game is a bad game for me but good game for the team because I got a win.

Yesterday I got to the stadium, and Tony, he get me up, and he knows, the catcher is a hard position. I'll be okay. Right now I'm comfortable and I'll play today.

Q. Tony, obviously knowing that position and what could happen there, you don't want anything to happen to anybody this time of year, but you kind of had to feel sorry for him the other day?

TONY PEÑA: Oh, no question about that. He got that so many times. We're getting used to that. Sometimes it comes to the point where you don't even feel like you're getting hit. You just have to take the hits and you know you're going to be strong for a moment and then it's going to go back. You know the pain is going to go away. Like the other day he got hit, and I know I didn't want to go out. Catcher is a tough position, and we do not need to babysit. We need to take it. We need to take the hit, and that's exactly what he did. He just took it like a man, and he went back, like I said, and prepared for war. If I get hurt, I get hit. If we win, I'm happy. I didn't even worry about it.

Q. It is always said that all the games are the same, that I'm going to face so and so, and for me it's the same, but in this case with the United States, for the first time with a game so important between the Dominican Republic and the United States, it's always special, even though you don't want to say it. Let's talk about your feelings about that and the face-off, the applicable face-off you have as a manager by having in front of you Joe Torre.

TONY PEÑA: (From Spanish) no doubt, we cannot play or cannot hide the fact what we feel. We know we have a great team, and the team that we're going to face. We have to take advantage of it in the correct manner. It is one more time, and it is important game. But it's more important when you play only one game. But it has a meaning because we are going to play against the greatest power in baseball, and I know the importance that this game has.

To manage against Joe Torre has great meaning because I was his coach for a long time with the Yankees, and really he's a person that I esteem a lot, and I also respect him a lot. But because I respect him, I love him, that doesn't mean that we don't want to win. I want to win.

Q. European baseball is expanding. There is proof of this since there have been teams like Spain that have lost but have played well. When I talk about European baseball, Dominican Republic beat Spain 6-1, but what it means is baseball is expanding. Is that a reality at this time?

TONY PEÑA: (From Spanish) Major League Baseball is taking baseball to a global level, not only for Latin American countries, but also in Europe you are starting to see that many countries are playing baseball. Also baseball is in Africa. That's the direction that I see this. It's a global direction. Because, for example, in Europe not only are they playing like American, like fastball, but baseball, too. In Italy there is an official league, so baseball is a sport that is growing everywhere.

Q. Carlos, as a player how have you received the support of the fans both in Puerto Rico and here in Miami? Does the support from the public give an extra push for the players?

CARLOS SANTANA: The fact that it gives you an extra push, certainly. The fans, especially in Puerto Rico and here in Miami, they have given us great support. And for me and for the players, as I've seen, it means something good, great, especially for us Dominicans who are representing our country and our flag.

Q. The new Major League rule for this season allows interpreters to go to the mound with the manager or the pitching coach. I don't know how familiar you are with the new rule.

TONY PEÑA: Well, I think it's very important. I'm not very, very familiar with the new rule, but I think it's very important because sometimes we have a young kid that comes from a foreign country, and they don't know the language. Most of the time we want that communication during the game, and I think it's great because some of those kids sometimes, sometimes they feel lost. And we want to be on the same page as much as possible.

Q. The rule says that employees of the organization can accompany the manager or the pitching coach. A lot of teams have somebody in employment that speaks one of the Asian languages, not so much interpreters of Spanish. Is that going to be a problem for the Latin players, or do you think there are enough people such as yourself who are bilingual that you'll be all right that way?

TONY PEÑA: Well, one thing about Spanish is that we have so many players on the field that speak the language, and some of the players can step in and translate for whoever is on the mound, if we have any.

At the New York Yankees, we have Robinson Cano who speaks really good English, and we use him to pass the message.

I think -- I don't know what the next step is in baseball, but I think it's great.

Q. Carlos, what's your experience with that? Do you think this is a helpful move to have this rule?

CARLOS SANTANA: (From Spanish) that's something interesting since in baseball we have had many Latin players, specifically when pitchers and catchers are from another country, from Japan. I think that's a great help for baseball.

Q. When you say baseball in Spanish, it always reminds you of the Dominican Republic. And from your point of view because a lot of people don't know it, but why does the Dominican Republic produce so many good baseball players?

TONY PEÑA: (From Spanish) for us baseball is like eating rice, beans and beef. We stop eating if we have to play baseball. When we were kids, we wanted to be superstars. If you go around all the Dominican players and you ask them, they'll tell you.

For example, I grew up and I thought as a catcher I want to become a catcher like Johnny Bench or Manny Sanguillen. Those were my idols as a kid. But the way I see it, 80 percent of Dominican players, we come from poor families. Our roads are very long. Very few are from the city. Most of us from peasants. We have the luck that we are provided with the opportunity. You can see when a batter goes to the field and gives it everything, and you also see that we enjoy the game because we play with feeling, and there's a romanticism, and it's an easy way to leave poverty behind.

That's why you have kids when they are young, if you see my grandson, he's one-year-old, and he does the swing with a bottle, and that's what they see. And thank God there is a group of us players and coaches who are in the Major Leagues, but there is another level of players, and that will never happen because that's characteristic of us Dominicans.

Q. Carlos, how have you been benefitted by being managed by Tony Peña, because in addition to being a good manager he was also a catcher. Tell us about the patriotic feelings on and off the field, considering that the stadium is going to be filled today half by Dominicans.

CARLOS SANTANA: (From Spanish) I feel very happy, very emotional because it is the first time that I am together with Tony Peña as a manager and catching instructor since he played for a long time in the Major Leagues. That makes me feel very emotional. I always ask him -- anything that I want to find out, I ask him because I know that he's a fighter.

With respect to our homeland, that's why I'm here representing my homeland, my country. Wherever the Dominican party, there will always be support by the fans. For me that's like the World Series. You understand? That is like the almost -- this tournament is going -- this field is going to be full, and half of them will be Latins. And I feel very well, emotional and happy. And also, another thing, it's the first time that I have been with high caliber players like Cano, Reyes and Encarnacion, Hanley, and I've also learned a lot from them.