Rivera throws out first pitch at Classic qualifier

Rivera throws out first pitch at Classic qualifier

Rivera throws out first pitch at Classic qualifier
Panama City native and future Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera addressed reporters on Thursday, hours before throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at Rod Carew National Stadium, prior to Panama playing Brazil in World Baseball Classic qualifying.

"I do have a lot of pride to do this because I'm in my hometown," the Yankees closer said. "And when you're in your hometown, it's obviously a pride and a joy to be here. I wish I would be throwing out the last pitch and not the first pitch, but it is what it is. I'm just going to be here to enjoy and support the team."

Rivera missed the most of the 2012 season after tearing his right anterior cruciate ligament in May. Reporters asked why Rivera, who turns 43 on Nov. 29, won't be participating in the Classic for Panama, but Rivera said he's not 100 percent yet.

"I'm feeling good," Rivera told MLB.com. "The rehab has been great. It's been tough, but at the same time, I'm seeing good results. I can't wait to continue and stay 100 percent. A day at a time, like I always tell you guys. A day at a time."

As for his contract negotiations with the Yankees, they're still ongoing. Rivera said he can't imagine himself in any other uniform but pinstripes.

"I won't say that," Rivera said. "Definitely, it would be the Yankees, obviously."

Rivera isn't the only high-profile MLB player who will throw out a ceremonial first pitch at the Panama World Baseball Classic qualifier, as Royals pitcher Bruce Chen is scheduled to throw out the first pitch on Friday before the Colombia-Nicaragua matchup.

Alex Espinoza is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.