Olympic Team teleconference quotes
Discussing the roster and philosophy of constructing the team
On the pitching rotation and starting lineup:
"It's kind of really early yet (to make the rotation) and we have the luxury to have four games in Cary, North Carolina, vs. Canada. We'll see how guys are throwing. We know the match-ups (at the Olympics) and who we are playing. We will probably set our starting rotation coming out of North Carolina."
"As far as the lineup, you know, take Matt (LaPorta) (for example), who has been an outfielder all year and played first base at Florida. Matt looked awful good at the Futures Game at first base. We have a lot of flexibility in the lineup and I am going to hold off on a lineup until I watch them all hit batting practice in North Carolina."
On working with Major League Baseball organizations to select the team:
"They were very good. Being a manager in the big league level, I understand the importance of having insurance for injury. It can happen any time and we are talking about the cream of the crop in the Minor League system. We are lucky to get who we have because of the pennant races and getting guys Major League experience. I think (MLB) has been very cooperative, some clubs more than others, but we have a great club."
On selecting Casey Weathers and Dexter Fowler for the Olympic team:
"I saw Casey throw in the Futures Game, and he threw the ball outstanding. He has been having a great year. I like his arm and like his makeup. He can set up or close. Dexter Fowler is a great-looking outfielder. He is a switch-hitter that tore it up in Double A. He has superstar written all over him, and we are happy to get him."
On selecting Jason Donald for the Olympic team:
"He's a great-looking shortstop. Great hands, good arm and his offensive arms are outstanding. I like his makeup. He was way up on our list to begin with and once I got the chance to get to know him a little bit, I liked him even better."
On selecting Lou Marson for the Olympic team:
"He really impressed me during (the Futures Game). He caught the first three innings. We don't give the signs to the catcher. He told (pitcher) Brett Anderson to throw over to first and he picked (a runner off). His numbers are outstanding for a catcher, great offensive catcher, and I got reports that said everything about him is good."
On the selection of college baseball player Stephen Strasburg for the Olympic Ttam:
"As far as really having a good read on everybody, we got our reports (on Strasburg) from (USA Baseball Director of National Teams) Eric Campbell on what he has done, and he was on our radar before he pitched for the (U.S. National Team) over in Europe. He did a great job against the teams he pitched against. He's a power pitcher. He is in the high 90's and he throws strikes. That is kind of a rarity for even Triple-A-type guys. Here's a guy who pounds the strike zone awfully good and he was lights out in the tournament. He is one of my starters."
Impressions of Matt LaPorta:
"We had heard a lot of good things and we have a number of scouts that join conference calls and talk about players and we look at numbers. The main thing I liked once I saw him is that he is an aggressive hitter. He has a good idea of what he is doing when he is up there. He handled himself very well (at first base). He gives us a lot of flexibility (in the outfield and at first base)."
On the selection of Mike Koplove:
"He's had an outstanding year in Triple A. He's a guy that has pitched in the big leagues and you like to have experienced guys. He knows how to pitch and his influence on the pen will be outstanding. It is good have guys that have been through it and been up in the big leagues. I can use him a little more frequently."
On the selection of Jake Arrieta:
"Well, first of all, you look at him, he is kind of intimidating. You can look at him and you don't want to mess with him in a dark alley. He kept the ball down (in one inning of work). Here is a young man throwing in between 93 and 96 (MPH). He has good movement and a hard breaking ball. He went right at them and it looked pretty easy. He will probably pitch in game four or game five."
On the selection of Taylor Teagarden:
"I have been looking at (Taylor) Teagarden for a couple of years now. He was high on our list last year for the World Cup. If you saw the Futures Game, he threw out (a runner) on a breaking ball on a 3-2 pitch with a left-handed hitter up. He threw a strike (down there) on the runner's side of the bag. He's a guy that can shut down the running game. That's a big part of how you win ball games."
On the selection of Colby Rasmus:
"Colby is a little different bird. He is not your prototype leadoff hitter. He is the kind of guy that can hit the ball out of the ballpark, hit a double. He has a live bat, a great defensive outfielder and runs real good. He had a lot of big hits for us out in Taiwan."
On the selection of Brian Barden:
"Brian Barden is kind of a veteran player that has played in the big leagues at shortstop, probably mostly at third base. He can play anywhere in the infield. He is hitting over .310, .320 in Triple A. He has very good hands, and I can plug him in just about anywhere."
On relief pitching Bullpen A and Bullpen B:
"I've always done that. Relievers are kind of set up to pitch every other day. Give them a day rest and they can come back after a day off. If you have relief A and relief B, you are always sending out a guy that is pretty fresh and it works good that way. I try to complement set-up guys for both scenarios. We have three or four guys that can close. You just have to have that flexibility. The first time I met (pitching coach Marcel Lachemann), he mentioned how he liked to have A and B. I think that is how all bullpens should be run at the big leagues. It's a long year, and you save your bullpen."
On the selection of Brandon Knight:
"His numbers are outstanding, whether in the pen or not. His numbers are really off the chart. He knows how the umpiring can go (internationally) and how the hitters will work. He will be a great influence on a younger staff. He was kind of a no-brainer. He fills a big need for us. I don't have to worry about (him) like a 22 or 23-year old."
On selecting young players and veteran players:
"No. 1, you look, with guys in the infield, not only at their offensive numbers but their defensive numbers. Who do you want a ball hit to in the ninth inning with the tying runner on third and two outs? A lot of veteran players have been through the wars, and you know a guy like John Gall is a professional hitter. He will be a stabilizing guy in the outfield. He doesn't make a lot of mistakes and he hits the cutoff guy. Terry Tifee is hitting like .393 in Triple A; he gives you flexibility at third base and in the outfield. He makes a lot of contact, he drives the ball. It is difficult to find that type of player in 21, 22 year olds. That is the reason these (veteran) guys make the ball club."
On the selection of Terry Tiffee:
"Any time you go up and play in L.A. in front of 40,000, that is a great experience coming into this thing. It is how you perform under pressure. That is a big thing, and he is the kind of guy that the only thing holding him back (from MLB) is a position to play at."
U.S. Olympic Team General Manager Bob Watson
On the future of baseball in the Olympics:
"I think if Chicago or Tokyo were to win the Olympics for 2016, I think those cities have the venues. You have a few years to get the plan together; there are lot of moving parts in this (so) don't rule it out."
"The minds are turning to try and work things out. Some of the obstacles, (like) drug testing, we have met a lot of those requirements. I think that we are putting on a real good showing around the world with baseball and I believe the Olympics will definitely want to have baseball back in the fold. We have the World Baseball Classic now, and that popularity is only going to grow. We feel baseball is going to get back into the Olympics."
On naming the final player to the team:
"There are reasons why, when you have a player to be named later. Something is in the works; we will name that player as soon as we can. It might be three days, might be four days, but we have to have all our names in by July 22."
On the impact of the Futures Game:
"We thought it would be a real nice touch, we talked about this last (year) at Yankee Stadium (with the All-Star Game) that it would be great to bring in Team USA. I would say no one played themselves flat off the team. We had a lot of information going into this."
U.S. Olympic Team Player Matt LaPorta
On his last two weeks:
"It has been like a roller coaster. Overall, it has been very exciting and I'm just thankful to have this opportunity to be able to represent my country and play baseball (for Team USA)."
"I'm excited to see everything in China that has to do with the Olympics. There are a couple of guys that I know that will be out there, like (swimmer) Ryan Lochte, who I went to college with (down at Florida). I can't say enough about how great of an honor it is to represent the USA."
On playing in the Futures Game and being named to the Olympic team:
"It was a great experience to get to play at Yankee Stadium and I had a chance to have my Dad up there with me and all he could talk about really was getting a chance to watch his son play at Yankee Stadium."
"Now, I'm talking on my fiance's phone, because my phone... text messages are coming in right now and I wouldn't have been able to talk on there. It's an honor, a blessing and a privilege to be able to go represent the country."
Executive Director USA Baseball Paul Seiler
On the release of the U.S. Olympic Team roster:
"Prior to releasing this roster, we, in the form of Bob Watson, spoke to every general manager or organization to say (who will be on this club) and are we okay to name them to this team. The answers have been yes. Is it a fluid thing? Yes, because of things we don't control as an organization. Is it fluid from USA Baseball's side? Not at all. The 23 names we have out there right now are names that we are committed to. There is no fluidity in that list from our perspective. However, there are things that could happen at the Major League level that could impact us. As of right now, every one of these Major League organizations gave approval for them to be named to the team."
On availability of players for Olympic team:
"For international participation, there is typically an agreement reached between the IBAF (International Baseball Federation), Major League Baseball and the Players Association. It governs the availability of players under contract in the United States. The rule for these games was, there was a definitive date that if a player was not on the 25-man roster, he would be eligible for consideration for an Olympic team. Each country says these are the players we are interested in, and you get approval or not approval back from the club and you go from there."