When I heard about it, I wanted to go. I knew that he would be there and that it would be a big deal for him. Playing with him for five years, I want a chance to go over there and see how that will be for him."
Rivera has insisted that there is "no chance" that he will take the mound when the "Legend Series" between the Yankees and the Marlins will be played March 15-16 at Panama City's Rod Carew Stadium, marking Major League Baseball's first visit to the country since 1947. The games, a rematch of the 2003 World Series, will honor the legacy of Rivera, who retired last season as baseball's all-time saves leader.
Rivera's remaining on the sidelines won't dampen the enthusiasm for the Yankees, who are sending a star-studded roster for the games: manager Joe Girardi said on Friday that Derek Jeter, Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran, Brett Gardner and Alfonso Soriano are all expected to be on the trip.
Adam Warren is scheduled to start the first game against the Marlins, Girardi said. David Robertson, who is succeeding Rivera in the closer's role for the Yankees, also has said that he plans to travel to Panama.
Sabathia said that it will not be his first trip to Panama -- he traveled with Andruw Jones to play first base in a celebrity softball game at Rod Carew Stadium a few years back -- but he is looking forward to the change of scenery.
"It should be fun. I'm excited," Sabathia said. "It's another Spring Training start, but it will be fun. You're going on a road trip with some of the guys you might not get to hang out with, so I think it will be cool."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.