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“I joked with him about playing an inning in center field, but it hasn’t got too far,” Girardi said.

Derek Jeter and Sabathia are among those making the trip.

“I think we know what the Yankees mean to Mo, and I think we know what his country means,” Girardi said. “To be able to combine the two I think it’s really special.”

Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury and Mak Teixeira are among the players not making the trip to Panama for weekend games against the Miami Marlins. McCann had been scheduled for the games in Central America but is being replaced by Francisco Cervelli.

YOON TIME

South Korean right-hander Suk-min Yoon is scheduled to make his Baltimore spring training debut Saturday.

The 27-year-old, 73-59 with a 3.19 ERA in nine seasons with the KIA Tigers in the Korean Baseball Organization, obtained a work visa in Canada this week.

TANAKA TALK

Tanaka is feeling better about his adjustment to pitching every fifth day.

“Graduallly, I think I’m getting used to it,” Tanaka said through an interpreter. “But it’s actually hard to say because at this point the number of pitches that I’m throwing is very limited. I’ll get a better idea with a lot more pitches and then see how I feel.”

Tanaka was wearing a pair of batting gloves for weightlifting when he was asked whether he is a good hitter.

“No, no,” he replied in English.

CHAMPIONSHIP COACH

Hockey Hall of Famer Scotty Bowman was the guest of Yankees co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner at the game.

Bowman won an NHL-best nine Stanley Cups as a coach and has 13 overall. His last two championships came in 2010 and 2013 in his current role as senior adviser for the Chicago Blackhawks.

Story Continues →