Former Yankees and Red Sox reliever Ramiro Mendoza has started training in the hopes of making Panama’s World Baseball Classic team for qualifying next month, MLB.com reports.
“It is a wonderful experience,” said Mendoza. “I [am coming] to do my part to help the boys, but I know they have a lot to offer for Panama.”
The 40-year-old Mendoza last pitched in the U.S. with the Yankees’ Triple-A club in 2006. He had his best season in the majors in 1998, going 10-2 with a 3.25 ERA in 14 starts and 27 relief appearances for the Yankees. He pitched for Panama in the first two WBCs in 2006 and ’09.
Panama will compete with Colombia, Brazil and Nicaragua for one spot in the main WBC tournament that takes place next March. It will have to do so without the greatest talent the country has ever produced, Mariano Rivera. Carlos Ruiz, Carlos Lee and Bruce Chen are among the handful of current major leaguers from Panama.