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Yanks in Panama to salute Rivera.

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 today and Sunday at Rod Carew Stadium in Panama City 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.

The previous time the Yankees visited Panama was in 1947, when they played several games against the then Brooklyn Dodgers. A year before that, their roster included Joe DiMaggio when they played a Panamanian team.

Rivera said he was happy Panamanian families who cannot travel to the United States will be able to watch the Yankees play this weekend. The 44-year-old Rivera, a native of the fishing village of Puerto Caimito, spent his entire 19-year career in the major leagues the Yankees.

Both the Yankees and the Miami Marlins traveled with only part of their squads, leaving the rest to play split-squad games in Florida. The Marlins arrived in Panama City on Friday afternoon.

Hank finds Wisconsin home

That little white dog is now a big leaguer.

Hank, the bedraggled ball of fur who wandered into the Brewers' spring training complex in Phoenix back on Presidents' Day looking for one more chance, will head to Milwaukee and his new home on Sunday.

''There are so many people who have been part of the Hank story: fans, players and coaches, front office staff, media and all of those in his circle of caregivers,'' Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said. ''We're grateful to have an opportunity to make Hank a permanent member of the Brewers family, but even more important, we're thrilled that he is going to a great family that will ensure that he is loved and comfortable in his new Wisconsin home.''

Hank will fly back to Milwaukee on a charter flight with Brewers executives, sponsors and family members and will be welcomed to the city by Mayor Tom Barrett and County Executive Chris Abele.

The Wisconsin Humane Society received more than 1,000 offers to adopt Hank, but have not identified his new owners.

The dog was found wandering around Maryvale Baseball Park by a security guard on Feb. 17.

He was covered with dirt and it appeared the dog had been hit by a car. A team official took him to a veterinarian, who estimated the pooch was 2 to 3 years old.

Team employees hung lost dog signs around the Maryvale neighborhood on Phoenix's west side.

Thumb sidelines Beckett

Dodgers right-hander Josh Beckett left his start Friday against the Chicago Cubs after three innings in Mesa, Ariz., because of a sore thumb on his pitching hand.

Expected to be the Dodgers' No. 5 starter, Beckett allowed only an infield single to Emilio Bonifacio while walking two and striking out one.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Geographic Code:1U5FL
Date:Mar 15, 2014
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