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.
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.