3/16/2014 6:00 P.M. ET
Legendary boxer Duran visits with Yankees
By Bryan Hoch / MLB.com
PANAMA CITY, Panama -- For his second trip to the mound during this Legend Series, Mariano Rivera had some company. With the former Yankees closer at his side, retired professional boxer and national icon Roberto Duran threw out Sunday's ceremonial first pitch at Rod Carew Stadium.
"I think it was a great experience," manager Joe Girardi said. "I mean, how often do you get to see Mariano Rivera and Roberto Duran throw out the first pitch? I thought today was really cool, to see him. I think it was a great trip, and I think it's a big plus."
Duran, 62, lobbed the toss to Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton. Duran was "extremely proud" to be part of Major League Baseball's return to Panama, and he expressed hope that teams will consider returning on a regular basis.
Duran and Rivera are "casual" acquaintances, and they occasionally run into each other in Miami and exchange pleasantries. There is mutual respect for their athletic accomplishments -- Rivera as baseball's saves leader and Duran as one of the great boxers of all time.
Duran relayed a story about a visit to Yankee Stadium -- he was unsure as to whether it was in the 1970s or 1980s -- as a guest of Reggie Jackson, who had promised to hit him a home run in that night's game. Duran said that after a couple of strikeouts, Jackson finally connected, and the slugger was relieved to have come through.
Duran toured the Yankees' clubhouse and was given Jackson's jersey as a parting gift; he said the fit was so loose, it looked more like a dress. Other Yankees gave Duran their gear as souvenirs to the point where Duran felt as though he had been invited on a shopping trip.
Asked who is more popular in Panama, he or Rivera, Duran grinned, pointed his index fingers in the air and flexed his biceps. No further response was needed.
Beltran appreciates meaning of Legend Series
PANAMA CITY, Panama -- Veteran outfielder Carlos Beltran has had the opportunity to play World Baseball Classic games in Puerto Rico, so he understands how meaningful this weekend's Legend Series is to Mariano Rivera.
"It's emotional," Beltran said. "Growing up here as a kid and being successful in baseball, now he's back home and he's retired, it's special. This is something that doesn't happen a lot, so he deserves it for what he did."
Beltran was recognized often on the streets of Panama, with some fans telling him that they followed his Cardinals in the World Series last season. Beltran and Rivera never played together, but Beltran needed no introduction to Rivera's reputation.
"Great person -- all I heard of him were just good things; how he gets involved with the community, the way he handles himself on the field and off the field," he said. "That's important. He's a class-act person.
"It's just great that they're putting this together for him here in Panama. It will mean a lot for him, but also it will mean a lot for the people that supported him all those years he played for the Yankees."
Beltran also appreciates the three-day change of scenery, a welcome respite from the grind of the spring.
"Every time you have the chance to leave Spring Training for a couple of days, it's always good," he said.
Girardi close to decision on fifth starter
PANAMA CITY, Panama -- It is possible that the Yankees will decide on their fifth starter by the end of this week, according to manager Joe Girardi.
Michael Pineda is believed to be a front-runner, but Girardi and his coaches will also have to evaluate solid performances from David Phelps, Adam Warren and Vidal Nuno.
"It's going to make my job really difficult," Girardi said.
Girardi said that until the Yankees iron out the rotation situation, they will have question marks in their bullpen. Girardi mentioned Fred Lewis, Cesar Cabral and Nuno as players who have put up good cases for bullpen jobs, noting that Nuno could be a swingman, similar to Ramiro Mendoza's old role.
"If you're in uniform, you're in the mix," he said.
• With the Yankees scheduled to fly to Tampa, Fla., immediately after Sunday's game, Girardi believes the trip to Panama was a great success.
"It's been wonderful. [Saturday] night was a great experience for everyone involved," Girardi said. "Our players, coaches and everyone involved in the front office, it's been very enjoyable here. I hope that people are enjoying it as much as we are."
Girardi said that one regret was that because of unfortunate timing, he was unable to see a ship going through the Panama Canal.
• Girardi said there was minimal chatter in the clubhouse and on the bus about the Marlins' four-pitcher no-hitter on Saturday.
"We talked a little bit about it," he said. "It was a historical night here, and that's not the history we were looking to make. Today's a new day, you move on. That's the great thing about our game -- you get to move on quickly."