March 19: Puerto Rico's Edwin Rodriguez postgame interview

THE MODERATOR:  We'll get started with questions for Edwin.

Q.  (Not in English.)  Your guys seemed very positive with their accomplishments.  Doesn't that say a lot about their chemistry?  Tell us about that experience.

EDWIN RODRIGUEZ:  (Not in English.)  Well, obviously we wanted to win and we had the strength.  We have to take our hats off to the Dominican Republic team, which showed a stellar performance.

We are a bit disappointed, but my guys are leaving with their heads up.  This has been a good championship.  Here we are, and they should be very proud, each of the members of this team.

Q.  (Not in English.)  It's obvious that the mission is to win, but with your roster, just getting to the finals is a real milestone.

EDWIN RODRIGUEZ:  (Not in English.)  It's true, we didn't have a lot of big names.  The people who were here wanted to be here.  They had a mission, and that was to give everything.  I think that's an example of what can be accomplished when you have interest and you really put your passion towards a cause.

DR has huge talent.  Other teams also had great talent and stars from the major leagues.  But the DR has a passion, desire, the drive to really show this kind of amazing performance, and they did accomplish it.

Q.  In the big picture of the tournament, to look back and have gotten by Venezuela, to have gotten by the United States, and then of course, Japan, if you can kind of reflect back, I know you're thinking about the game right now, but on the total tournament.

EDWIN RODRIGUEZ:  Yeah, definitely, we feel very, very proud with what we did.  When we were playing the first round down in San Juan Puerto Rico, with Dominican Republic and Venezuela in the same bracket, definitely, nobody would give us any chance to get out of there, and we did.

And then we passed to Miami, and then again we were the underdog there, and now we are here.  We were playing on March 19th, the championship game, so, of course, we were trying very hard to win this ballgame, but we feel very proud with what we did.  And I think that every member of the team, they feel like that the mission was accomplished.

We started this tournament with a purpose and we did a good job taking the desire to those youngsters down in Puerto Rico, to get back on the field and trying to make it to the Big Leagues.  I think that was the mission that we were trying to get and we did.  So we feel very, very proud for that.

Q.  (Not in English.)  Related to that same issue, finishing second, do you think that this will encourage people in your country to play baseball?  What do you think the result of this championship will be for Puerto Rico?

EDWIN RODRIGUEZ:  (Not in English.)  The first affect, I would say that we put Puerto Rico on the map, the baseball map again.  Professional organized baseball is looking towards Puerto Rico again as a positive source of development of young players.

And in second place, it's motivating youth who are growing and coming forward and letting them know that professional baseball and the Major Leagues have so many opportunities.  And I think that should motivate them to continue developing in baseball as a sport, and I think we did accomplish that mission.

Q.  (Not in English.)  This was an amazing championship for Puerto Rico.  How does the staff, how do the players feel having been called the underdogs in this tournament?

EDWIN RODRIGUEZ:  (Not in English.)  Well, maybe some of them feel disappointed or bothered.  Personally, if I were an analyst, I would have said the same thing about this.  You need to have an objective opinion and analysis of the teams.

Now, if you're asking me personally, I never was bothered by that.  I never felt that there was any motivation to try to prove that we were superior.  Of course, we had the talent, and the motivation came from within the team.  I knew my team needed to give their all, their full potential, and we got to here.  We were able to motivate our members from inside out, and the motivation was not from outside in. 

Q.  First of all, are you disappointed, and can you just talk about the first inning and what happened there.

EDWIN RODRIGUEZ:  Definitely I was disappointed.  We were counting, of course, on Giancarlo Alvarado, and, of course, he did a great job.  But facing that kind of lineup, it was very tough for him to get his pitches going.  His secondary pitches, the cutter and the change‑up wasn't working.  So right after that, when I noticed that right off the bat, I knew that he would have problems.  So that's why I made a decision pretty quick.

But, yes, we were disappointed ‑ and especially when we had a chance to score in that first inning.  It would have been a different ballgame if we would have scored in that first inning.  I think it would have been a different ballgame then.  That would have put us in the offensive mode, but it didn't happen.

You have to tip your hat to the Dominican Republic pitching and you have to tip your hat to the Dominican Republic ballclub, because not only do they have big names, but they also played with a lot of passion and played with a lot of commitment.

Q.  You just mentioned pitching.  Puerto Rico did not score, I believe, in the last 23 innings against the Dominican Republic pitching.  Was it that good?  The old line in baseball, pitching will beat hitting, and if you can't score, you can't win.

EDWIN RODRIGUEZ:  Well, definitely.  I mean, when you take a look at that Dominican Republic roster, the arms that they have, not only the starters, but in that bullpen, that's a Big League bullpen right there.  So you have to tip your hat for the Dominican Republic pitching.

 And, yes, we didn't score in those many innings, but the last time I checked, that was not too many teams that scored against that team.  Because when you take a guy throwing 94, 95 and then bring another guy throwing 97, 98, I mean that's pretty hard to score against.

And then as a manager, you just play for six innings, and then if you have the lead in the sixth, that's a pretty good chance that you're going to win that ballgame.

THE MODERATOR:  You've been a class act, thank you for everything.  Great run by team Puerto Rico.  Congratulations.

EDWIN RODRIGUEZ:  All right.  Thank you.  Thank you.

(Applause.)

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