01/08/10 7:10 PM EST
Yanks, trophy tour Dominican Republic
Contingent received by president; Mo on hand for first pitch
By Bryan Hoch / MLB.com
A contingent of Yankees players were received by President Leonel Fernandez at the National Palace, with Robinson Cano, Damaso Marte, Francisco Cervelli, coach Tony Pena and senior vice president Felix Lopez taking turns showing off the championship prize.
President Fernandez told reporters that it was a great honor to receive the Yankees, and that he identifies with the club because many Dominicans have been a part of the franchise.
"This is an unprecedented event," Fernandez said in Spanish, according to the Listin Diario newspaper. "Never before has an international organization come to the Dominican Republic to share with us the symbolic presence of the trophy in our country."
Fernandez also praised the Yankees' ownership group, headed by principal owner George M. Steinbrenner, whom Fernandez said is very demanding of his players to be role models in American society.
Lopez presented the trophy to the president, saying that the championship had great significance for the club because it was their first since moving into the new Yankee Stadium.
Fernandez also received a Yankees jersey with his name and the No. 1 on the back at the 45-minute ceremony, along with a team signed baseball and a crystal replica of Yankee Stadium.
The trophy also appeared on Thursday at Quisqueya Stadium in Santo Domingo, prior to a Dominican Winter League playoff game between Leones del Escogido and Tigres del Licey.
Lopez and Yankees closer Mariano Rivera took to the mound for a ceremonial first pitch, celebrating New York's six-game World Series victory over the Phillies last November.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.