PANAMA CITY (AP) — The New York Yankees prepared Friday for a pair of exhibition games against the Miami Marlins in the home country of Mariano Rivera, the retired career saves leader.
A fundraising dinner for Rivera's foundation and the games Saturday and Sunday at Rod Carew Stadium highlight a weekend that is a tribute to the pitcher, who retired after last season.
Rivera told reporters Thursday night before the Yankees' split squad arrived that "I feel like a peacock."
He said "it was my dream to bring my team and my teammates to enjoy my homeland."
Appropriately, the Yankees players were wearing Panama hats when they got off their plane. On Friday, a group of players visited the Panama Canal, a waterway built by the United States a century ago that is credited with spreading the baseball tradition in the Central American nation.
No ships crossed during the team's visit, but the players and manager Joe Girardi took pictures and signed autographs for tourists at one of the canal's viewpoints.
"You never think they could fit a ship through this canal, but somehow they do," said David Robertson, who has taken over Rivera's role as closer.