PANAMA CITY, Panama — Mariano Rivera chuckled at Derek Jeter's joke. He playfully jabbed at Giancarlo Stanton's arm when the Marlins slugger spoke glowingly about the former Yankees closer, then referenced his age.
Rivera is back home in the biggest role of his career: the "legend" in Major League Baseball's Legend Series between the Yankees and Marlins this weekend at Rod Carew Stadium.
"This is for my country," Rivera, 44, said Saturday. "I want my people from Panama to enjoy baseball on the best level. There is nothing better than major-league baseball."
Rivera sat between Jeter and Stanton on a star-studded stage hours before New York and Florida faced off in an exhibition game. It was to be baseball's first game in Panama since 1947.
"It's a privilege for us, as well as the Marlins, to get the opportunity to come here to Panama," Jeter, 39, said. "This is my third time. I came, I believe, 17 or 18 years ago to see Mo, and I was here a couple of years ago. This is a wonderful place, and I can't think of a better person to be honored than Mariano. I'm also happy that Major League Baseball has come back for the first time since (1947), when Mo was a young child."
The crowd erupted in laughter. Stanton's comments a few minutes earlier also made Rivera smile.
"It is an honor to be here and to bring my team down here to honor Mariano," Stanton, 24, said. "I never got a chance to know him personally, or Derek, but they are guys I grew up watching and helped me love the game that I play now."
NUNO STRONG: In the other split-squad game, LHP Vidal Nuno shut out the Orioles over four innings, allowing one hit and one walk with three strikeouts in a 2-1 Yankees loss. Nuno is competing for the No. 5 starter job.
Phillies: Adams getting close
CLEARWATER — RH reliever Mike Adams, who is recovering from a litany of shoulder problems that plagued him last season, threw his second bullpen session of the spring.
Adams threw 40 pitches and said his shoulder felt fine.
"I've noticed the advances I've made over the last couple bullpens, as far as delivery and how it's coming out of my hand," he said. "Now, everything is going the way I hoped."
Adams missed 92 games last season because of shoulder and biceps issues. He had shoulder surgery in late July.
MAKING PROGRESS: LHP Cole Hamels was scheduled to throw a bullpen session today, his second since he shut himself down with fatigue in his injured pitching shoulder. Hamels said Friday that he felt good after Thursday's session.
Jays: Rough time for Goins
PORT CHARLOTTE — Blue Jays INF Ryan Goins continued to struggle, going 0-for-3 in a 6-3 loss to a Rays split squad to drop his average to .171 with no extra-base hits and no RBIs in 12 spring games.
Goins, 26, spent time at second base and shortstop against Tampa Bay, the positions he played last season while making his major-league debut. He hit .252 with a .264 on-base percentage and a .345 slugging percentage in 34 games for Toronto after being called up in August.
Manager John Gibbons said Goins might be pressing a bit. "He knows he belongs in the big leagues," Gibbons said. "He's a young kid."