Blast from the past: Ramiro Mendoza aiming to pitch for Panama

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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.

Rays moving spring camp due to damage caused by hurricane

Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The Tampa Bay Rays are relocating their spring base for 2023 due to extensive damage to team training facilities caused by Hurricane Ian.

The Rays have trained since 2009 in Port Charlotte, Florida, about 90 minutes south of St. Petersburg, and intend to explore several options before making a decision on where to hold spring training and play Grapefruit League games when camp opens.

The team and Charlotte County released a joint statement Thursday, saying damage to Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte can’t be repaired in time to host games this winter.

“Charlotte County supports the Rays efforts to secure alternative accommodations for 2023 spring training,” the statement said.

“We are all disappointed for the residents of Charlotte County and the fans there. The community is in the thoughts and hearts of the Rays, and the team will continue to support recovery efforts,” the statement added. “The Rays and Charlotte County intend to develop a restoration plan for Charlotte Sports Park in the coming weeks.”