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Updated: March 16, 2013
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Copyright © 1997-2013
Grand Slam/Marco Stoovelaar

Compiled and Copyright © 1997-2013 by Marco Stoovelaar

Dutch Team conducts first practice in AT&T Park
SAN FRANCISCO, California (USA) - On Saturday-afternoon, the Dutch Baseball Team held it's first of two practice sessions in AT&T Park, the home of World Series-winner San Francisco Giants. And the home of Dutch Manager Hensley Meulens, who is the Hitting Coach of the Giants. The Dutch Team will have another 2-hour practice session on Sunday-morning.

On Monday, the Orange squad meets the Dominican Republic in the second semi-final of the World Baseball Classic. Two-time WBC-winner Japan meets Puerto Rico in the first semi-final on Sunday-evening. Both games will begin at 6 PM local time (2 AM Dutch time). Four years ago, the Dutch defeated the Dominicans twice to advance to the Second Round of the WBC. The two winners advance to the Final of the Classic, which will be played on Tuesday and starts at 5 PM local time (1 AM Dutch time).

AT&T Park is the home of the San Francisco Giants since 2000, replacing Candlestick Park. The stadium has a capacity of almost 42.000. Construction of the stadium began in December 1997. One of the famous attractions of the stadium is McCovey Cove, named after famous Giants-slugger Willie McCovey, the area behind rightfield. There, China Basin is located which meets the famous bay of San Francisco. So far, 62 homeruns has landed there in the water for a 'splash hit'. A 'splash hit' is only recorded when Giants-players hit homeruns there. Barry Bonds is the leader with 35. Of the first 45 'splash hits', 35 of them where the ones hit by Bonds. On September 14, 2011, Carlos Beltrán also recorded a 'splash hit', which was his 300th career homerun. In total 87 homeruns landed in McCovey Cove, as 25 more were hit by opposing players.

...The big scoreboard in centerfield of AT&T Park...
(© Photo: Henk Seppen)
In 2001, Barry Bonds hit homeruns 71, 72 and 73 in the stadium to set a new single-season record. Bonds reached several other homerun-milestones in the stadium, including his 715th in 2006 to pass Babe Ruth for second place on the all-time list. On August 7, 2007, Bonds hit his 756th homerun there to break the all-time record of Hank Aaron.

On June 13 last year Matt Cain threw the first Perfect Game in Giants-history in the stadium.

The Giants won the World Series in 2010 and 2012, but both times, they won the title on the road after having started the Series at home.

Also today, Manager Hensley Meulens and infielder Jurickson Profar answered questions of reporters during a press conference in the stadium.

Meulens was asked what it means for him to be with the Dutch Team in San Francisco, which is his home.
Meulens answered: ,,I think it's a great honor just to be able to be the manager of this team. Moving into the final round here, into our park, here where I work, where we won a championship two out of the last three years, wearing the same colors. I think that winning one more championship in the same color, that will be great.''

Another question for Meulens was what reaching the semi-finals means for Dutch baseball not only on the Antilles, but also in the Netherlands.
Meulens: ,,Well, this was the plan by Major League Baseball. They're doing a great job of globalizing the game and this is just another example of how everybody's on the same level. We have had great players in the last few years come up to the Big Leagues. Jurickson Profar is one of them. We have Andrelton Simmons, Roger Bernadina. Our biggest star is Andruw Jones, who had 10 straight Golden Gloves, five-time All Star. We have a closer for the Dodgers, Kenley Jansen. We have good players. When we play in these tournaments, you play your best game to show people that the way Major League Baseball has expanded themselves all over the world is working and it's given countries an opportunity to show that they can play with any country. So, it will be a very special thing for the Netherlands. It's a soccer-based country and for the first time, I think the biggest TV-stations have come out to cover us in the middle of soccer-season in the Netherlands. We're turning heads. They can't believe that we're getting this far, but that's fine. They're getting used to us getting better. The first Classic we only won one game, it was a no-hitter. The only no-hitter in Classic history so far. The second classic, we beat Dominican twice to get into the second round and now we got into the semi-finals. So, we have done a little bit better with each Classic. It's because of guys like this. We have gotten better as well with great players.''

...Jurickson Profar and Hensley Meulens answer questions...
(© Photo: Henk Seppen)
Meulens continued, referring the USA being elimated: ,,As you see that game yesterday, how tight it was, and how they had a chance to win and they didn't. So it's another reason why Major League Baseball going all over the world, having all these academies and all these clinics, taking place all over the world so more kids can play all over the world. It's showing why now the Dominican, Puerto Rico, Japan, us, we have gotten here and perhaps to show people that we can compete with the best team in baseball, which is Team USA. It's funny to say, but the talent shows up on the playing field and what you put on paper sometimes doesn't matter. I'm part of a great team here with the San Francisco Giants, that we show people that we can beat the better teams on paper. And that's the same case right now with the Classic.''

Regarding the upcoming game against the Dominicans, Meulens said: ,,They're undefeated. They have played very, very well. We are going to have to play a very good game, pitch a very good game, play great defense like we have been playing, and get some offense. They're a great team. They have a lot of Major League-players, more than we do. We can't make mistakes against them, because they capitalize. We're going to have to play a very clean game to be able to beat them. Pitching is going to be critical for us, keep the ball down, keep them from hitting the ball in the air and out of the ballpark. We have great defense with Simmons and Profar and Schoop, Bogaerts, these guys can catch the ball in the infield. And in the outfield, with the speed of Bernadina, Sams, Oduber, they have shown why they're good outfielders, because they can catch the ball. And then whenever they pitch, I think we're going to have to have good at bats, grind out at bats to wear them down. We've been doing a good job at that. We played two very, very good exhibition games in Arizona against the Padres and the Mariners. Got a bunch of hits, scored a bunch of runs. And that's the way we're going to have to play to come out victorious on Monday.''

Jurickson Profar was asked about the influence Andruw Jones has had on him and what it means for him now playing with him.
Profar: ,,He had a lot of influence. We all grew up watching him play. He was the only one there when I grew up. So everyone was watching him and everyone wanted to be like him. He's a great guy. When I signed with the Rangers, he was playing with the Rangers. A great personality and it's an honor for me to play with him.''

Meulens was asked to compare the atmosphere in the team with that of the San Francisco Giants, as both had an underdog role.
Meulens: ,,I think that us going into the second round in 2009, has given us the assurance that we can compete on this high level with the better countries. Coming back to this year, I think once we passed the first round beating Korea, which is a powerhouse, and beating Australia to get to Tokyo, then beating Cuba twice there to get here, that's just a sign that we have arrived as a country, that people have to make sure that they take us into consideration when we're playing them. It's hard to explain how you get the camaraderie that's existed in the clubhouse and compare it with what we had with the Giants. It's very similar. The only thing is that Papiamento is being spoken a lot in the clubhouse. But the guys are, as a group, as a family, you can see them eating together. If you come to the hotel, you go to any of the hallways, you can see them all outside the hallways chatting. Family, they're playing cards, they're having a great time. And we have had a really great time since Taiwan, and then going into Tokyo, and then here.''

...Manager Hensley Meulens talks about the 'splash hits'...

...At right, Pitching Coach Bert Blyleven talks with the pitchers...

...Han Kok of NOS-Studio Sport interviews Andruw Jones...

...Bench Coach Robert Eenhoorn answers questions...

...Pitcher Rob Cordemans talks with Han Kok of Studio Sport...

...Bench Coach Robert Eenhoorn makes a phone call...
(© All Photos: Henk Seppen)

(March 16)

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