Netherlands Interview March 17

Q. For both of you, basically to a man all the players on your team have talked about how much they idolized you, how much they looked up to you and how important you've been to the run that they have had at this tournament. Do you feel like maybe like a proud father almost the way these young guys have followed you around throughout this tournament and how you've been able to get them to this point?

And to Hensley, what would you say about Andruw's contribution. You said he started calling you in August to get this thing going.

ANDRUW JONES: Well, I don't want to be their father, because I would have to take care of a lot of kids (smiling).

I'm just proud of them. I'm proud of all those guys. We managed to get together and make things happen. I know all the guys that say all those good things, they're probably growing up watching me play and wanted to be at the same stage that I am.

But everything starts with Hensley Meulens and getting a chance to open the door for a lot of opportunities from guys from Curacao. So after that, a lot of chances start opening. So I took advantage of it and I worked hard at it and I became really established in the major leagues for a long time.

And now that the door is open, a lot of guys are coming out from Curacao and I'm really surprised that how many guys that that is in the Minor Leagues that are upcoming to be a star in the major leagues. So I'm really proud. I think baseball being big down in Curacao for a long, long time. Even when my dad played, they used to beat Cuba, used to beat Dominican Republic, all these teams in the Pan American games.

So baseball is nothing new in the Caribbean for us, but now that opportunities are open the last say 10, 20 years, a lot of guys get a chance to come out and show their talent.

HENSLEY MEULENS: I've been telling you guys all along, his maturity has really shown up in this tournament. He's taken guys under his wing. He's showing leadership on and off the field. I think first and foremost is the way he's played. He's played with a lot of heart, with a lot of determination, and he's leading by example on the field. And that's easier to have guys follow you when you do that. When you're a star and you perform on the field, it's easier to get guys to believe what you're saying, and that's been the case.

Also off the field, he's been amazing with the guys. Always around, always guys playing cards in his room and hanging out and really being a close family. And that's what people don't see, but it's happening every day and we're really happy that he decided to play this time.

Like he said, since August of last year, we have been talking a lot about what are we going to do this tournament. We started talking with guys about playing, and as it turned out, we have most of our guys here. If you can look back, there's maybe only a couple guys that are in the Big Leagues, Jurickson and VandenHurk that went to Korea this year are probably the only two guys not participating, and Gregor got hurt.

But other than that, he's a big part of getting guys to play and that's why we are here today playing in the semifinals tomorrow.

Q. Can you guys talk about this match against the DR? There's been a lot of talk from them about the two times you guys beat them four years ago. And they don't want to say it, but it sounds like more of a grudge match for them tomorrow, that they have to come back and beat you guys. So could you talk about that.

ANDRUW JONES: Well, first of all, I think that was 2009. It's a different team and we're a different team. So these guys are confident. They're confident since we played Cuba. A lot of people were talking about Cuba and stuff, but these guys were confident because they played them so many times in a row already, so they know what the guys' got.

But for Dominican Republic, it's totally different team. Just like our team, there's so many guys that didn't play in 2009, and there's so many guys from Dominican Republic that aren't playing right now. So it's going to be a tough match. It's going to be they're coming in from Miami really hot. Everybody swinging the bat good. They haven't lost one game yet. So it's going to be a tough game. I think that it will go to who makes the least mistakes.

We got guys on our team that can do damage and I know that they got plenty of guys over there that can do damage. So I think if we eliminate our mistakes, it's going to be a good ballgame.

HENSLEY MEULENS: I agree. I think that it's four years that have passed. That's in the past for us. We have grown so much since then. We have gotten better, in my opinion. We didn't go past the second round that time, but this time we have. We have more youth on our team, more talent than four years ago. It's going to be we're going to have to beat whoever we play because if we want to make the finals and win the tournament, just we have had this same attitude from day one, doesn't matter who we play. We beat Korea over there in Taiwan in the first game and then we beat Australia, Cuba twice.

We had a tough time against Japan, but the guys never gave up. We came back. We made it a close game, especially that last game. We had the winning run at the plate in the 8th inning.

So these guys, we're going to have to play a clean game, pitch well, keep the ball down, induce ground balls to give our great infielders a chance to make plays. And also we're going to have to run the bases well, have quality at bats, keep the line moving to score the runs that we need to win tomorrow. We do those things, baseball game, you have to pitch good, you have to play good defense, and then get timely hitting and we'll come out ahead for sure.

Q. Could you talk about your starting pitcher? Pena was in here and said he had never even heard of him.

HENSLEY MEULENS: Well, they probably haven't heard of a lot of our guys, pitching wise anyway, because a lot of them don't play professional baseball. They play in Holland. But Diegomar was a kid that signed at 16, he had big, big ceiling. He's got the highest bonus, signing bonus out of the islands pitching wise ever, with the Blue Jays. He pitched, I believe, six or seven years in the Blue Jay organization. Got as high as Double A. He was on the 40 man roster one year.

So he's a guy that's been in pro ball. He's pitched the last few years in Holland. He's been a main stay on this team, on the national team, and he's pitched great. This guy got into a workout routine in the offseason and lost about 22 pounds, and he got in great shape. It's helped his pitching. He won two big games for us already, one against Korea and one against Cuba.

So if he has good command of his pitches and keeps them down in the zone, we expect him to do what he's been doing so far.

Q. The same question of Berry, about Diegomar, how huge of an advantage is it having a pitcher that the other team doesn't know much about him?

HENSLEY MEULENS: Well, they say always they say the good pitching stops the good hitting, especially if you don't know the guy. I think that for Major League hitters, which they have over there, it's always uncertainty, what kind of pitch he throws, how the ball moves. So it might take them an at bat or two to figure him out. Hopefully it will take them more than that.

But it's always an advantage for the pitcher to attack guys that don't know him. But again, he's going to have to make pitches. We know most of the guys on their team because of scouting reports and we know who they are. Everybody has a weakness, and he's going to have to attack the zone in their weakness and keep the ball down and he'll be fine.

Q. Your thoughts on the Dominican Republic starting pitcher Bogaerts, I think it's going to be? He's got more of a Major League career and the game plan that you may have pitching or facing him.

ANDRUW JONES: You're not going to face him.

(Laughter.)

HENSLEY MEULENS: Well, then you talk.

(Laughter.)

ANDRUW JONES: He's a tough pitcher. I don't know, we didn't keep up that much how he's been pitching in this WBC, but we know what kind of pitches he got. We know what kind of pitcher he is. He's got a good arm, a good slider, off speed pitch. Like I said, before, you know, for both teams, I think if whatever team makes less mistakes is going to win this thing. Hopefully he can make a mistake and we can take advantage of it. So that's all I got about him.

HENSLEY MEULENS: I think just him being in the same division as the Giants last year with the Padres, we faced him a couple times and we got to be patient with him. Because he's a guy that early in the game, he has a tendency to be erratic with his command and we know this, and it's documented. I think that I believe he only pitched one inning last time. He gave up four runs or something. So we know that.

We're going to have the game plan ready. We're going to study him a little bit today and before the game tomorrow and then make sure that we're patient with him, make sure that he is throwing strikes. Because he has a tendency to be around the strike zone.

But like Andruw said, he's got good stuff. He's a Major League pitcher that has good stuff. And if he's keeping the ball down in the strike zone, he's going to be tough to beat. But again, they all make mistakes and we got to be ready for that.

Q. Volquez pitched like five innings. He let in four runs, let up a three run homer the last time out. So this is like his third start. But otherwise, what kind of impact, talking about your starter, this younger starter, what kind of impact has Bert had on your pitching staff?

HENSLEY MEULENS: This is the second time that Bert is with us. He was with us in 2009, as well. He was asked to be with us in 2006, as well, but his daughter was getting married then. He's been awesome with the guys. He's a Hall of Fame pitcher with great experience and very good at teaching. These guys follow whatever his plan is to get guys out.

He's a big believer in pounding the strike zone and keeping the ball down and keeping the ball down and away and working on your change up.

So anyway he had a great curveball, so he's helped a couple of our guys with their curveball, and Diego is one of them. Diego throws a good curveball now and Kevin is a guy that had a loopy curveball. He tightened it up. So Bert has been the reason why the pitching has been so solid in every game we have won so far.