Young Yelich relishes mementos from Panama trip

Young Yelich relishes mementos from Panama trip

JUPITER, Fla. -- A couple of days in Panama gave Christian Yelich a lifetime's worth of memories, as he toured the Panama Canal and came home with an autographed jersey of his favorite player growing up.

The Marlins returned from their two-game exhibition series with the Yankees, and on Monday, Yelich sported a Derek Jeter autographed jersey in his locker. Yelich also brought home a signed Mariano Rivera jersey.

A California native, Yelich grew up a big fan of Jeter. Actually, the 22-year-old outfielder met Jeter last spring before a game in Tampa. The introduction was set up by former Marlins outfielder Juan Pierre.

"That was probably one of the coolest things I got to do, was meet him," Yelich said.

In Panama, Yelich approached Jeter in the cages.

"I said, 'Hey, man, I don't know if you remember or not, but Juan Pierre introduced me to you before a Spring Training game last year in Tampa,'" Yelich said.

Jeter agreed to sign for the young Marlins outfielder. Rivera also signed a jersey for Yelich, and the all-time saves leader signed baseballs for every player on the trip.

"It was awesome. He put on an awesome event," Yelich said. "It was a really cool experience going down there. He came to the locker room and thanked us. He didn't have to do that. We should have thanked him for inviting us down there."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter