FORT LAUDERDALE -- I figured you might be interested in some of the quotes I transcribed from my recorder Wednesday when Team Dominicana was here.
"I am enjoying to be with the Orioles here. I am a free agent this year so you never know. I (will) maybe come back."
On A-Rod's possible return to play in the WBC after a hip check:
"That's answer the manager can give you better than myself, but hopefully he can get back."
Is this Dominican team better than the last one?
"We'll see. We are just playing exhibition games right now. The statistics will tell you about how good this team was compared to the one in the last WBC."
On his health this spring:
"I feel good. My hand feels good. And my shoulder feels good, too."
On playing through injury last year:
"It's a little crazy. The only good memory I have of that is I have a lot of my teammates calling me in the offseason and telling me, 'Hey, thank you for not turning your back on us and stand up out there not being 100 percent.' That's one thing you'll never forget."
On why he wanted to play at less than 100 percent and risk criticism:
"We trade Manny and when you have that 1-2 punch out of the lineup, it's easier for the opposite team. I know that I was going to have a tough time because I wasn't right but I guess my presence in the lineup was something the pitcher had to think about even if I was not 100 percent."
On the Red Sox without Manny:
"We have a lot of guys with experience. Hopefully everybody stay healthy and hopefully everybody have a good season."
On his current WBC team:
"I think we have really good pitching. We got guys capable to pitch. We have guys with experience. We got guys that they are doing it right now in their prime. You just kind of hope everything goes good. Nobody gets injured. And then we can put up a good show."
Who would he start a team with, A-Rod, Hanley or Reyes:
"They are all totally different players. It sort of depends what I need. If I need somebody to steal bases, I am going to go with Reyes. If I need somebody to go deep and then I got to think about Hanley ... and A-Rod. They have totally different games and they are great players. I am happy just to have them around."
On playing first base, so Hanley Ramirez can DH and Reyes can play shortstop:
"I haven't played first base in a long time. It's not as easy as it looks, but that's what you do for your country."
On risking embarrassment playing first base in the WBC:
"People know you're not out there every day. People know you're definitely going to try your best. And people know the only time I play first base is the World Series, which is worse (pressure)."
Dominican manager Felipe Alou
Who would he start a team with, A-Rod, Hanley or Reyes:
"I wanna hear the question because I am going to talk about a Dominican player. I can pick Albert Pujols. I say I could pick Albert Pujols as the answer to the question. Any one of those guys I will pick and I know that I have a special ballplayer. I would try hard to get those four guys on my team."
Who would he start a team with:
I am kind of partial because a lot revolves around the shortstop and the catcher. But you look at Reyes and you look at Hanley Ramirez, two guys that can do so many things to win a game for you. It would be hard not to include them, especially Reyes with his speed, his power, his switch-hitting ability and the defensive skills. It would be hard to discount the importance of having him on your team. Another guy I would consider and I think is going to be an impact player is Geovany Soto. An offensive player behind the plate. Leadership skills and all that. These are the types of positions you don't find every day that combine offense, speed, defense and leadership. Soto has got that and is going to get better. Reyes has it as well and I'm certainly not discounting Pujols or A-Rod or even Hanley Ramirez because they are all very talented but at the same time you got to make a decision to pick one."
On managing a star team with all those egos:
"The players first and foremost they are wanting to get ready for their championship season, so I believe they all have to have an opportunity to get at-bats. The second thing is you want to win. These guys know what you're here for. Like Moises Alou just said, I can't even crack the lineup and there's a guy that has had a tremendous major league career. It is a very talented team, but in a short tournament it is all about pitching. They have Cueto and Volquez, Pedro Martinez and Ubaldo Jimenez that's pretty impressive. I think this Dominican team has a chance to go a long way in this series and certainly in this championship."
After the game on Pedro Martinez:
"It is amazing to me for a guy that hasn't pitched in a real game for so long can come back and be in the strike zone. Some of the fastballs were good. Some of the breaking balls were good."
On his outing Wednesday:
"I am still a little bit off with the pitches and getting the feel of the game, but as far as health, it was great. I feel great. I feel really, really good. Extremely good. For the first time out in a real, real game, I will take it as a plus day."
On showing MLB teams he is still it and is worth signing:
"I wouldn't say I still got it without proving it. I am going to go out there every day and try to improve and try to do better every day. I hope that my health stays the same way, because so far it's perfect and I'm bouncing back from pitching from the throwing I'm doing really, really, extremely good. So today is a positive day for me."
On getting the loudest reaction from the crowd:
"It fills me up with joy. I am really happy to see the appreciation people have of me, knowing how much I struggled in the last couple of years and they still have that passion for me."
On playing with David Ortiz again:
"Right now we are a team and it's never going to change between me and Big Papi. Big Papi is still my brother as much as he is my teammate."