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Puerto Rico Series: MLB unveils ceremonial events

Bernie Williams will sing anthem; Carlos Beltran to throw first pitch
MLB.com @DKramer_

The highly-anticipated matchup in Puerto Rico between the Indians and Twins next week received more anticipation on Tuesday, as Major League Baseball announced its full slate of ceremonial events surrounding the two-game series at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan.

Among the former big leaguers who are native Puerto Ricans that will be in attendance will include Bernie Williams and Carlos Beltran, as well as musical artist Daddy Yankee, the Grammy Award nominee for his famed single "Despacito." And, of course, the games themselves will feature Puerto Ricans such as Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor and Twins left fielder Eddie Rosario, among others.

The highly-anticipated matchup in Puerto Rico between the Indians and Twins next week received more anticipation on Tuesday, as Major League Baseball announced its full slate of ceremonial events surrounding the two-game series at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan.

Among the former big leaguers who are native Puerto Ricans that will be in attendance will include Bernie Williams and Carlos Beltran, as well as musical artist Daddy Yankee, the Grammy Award nominee for his famed single "Despacito." And, of course, the games themselves will feature Puerto Ricans such as Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor and Twins left fielder Eddie Rosario, among others.

Williams, the 16-year big leaguer who has been a well-respected guitarist off the field, will sing the Star-Spangled Banner ahead of the first game of the series, on April 17, while Pedrito Guzman will sing "La Borinqueña," the national anthem of Puerto Rico.

Beltran will throw out the first pitch. The recently retired outfielder is a native of Manati, and is the 2013 winner of the Roberto Clemente Award, one of the game's most respected honors for the big leaguer who best exhibits community contributions. Clemente, of course, died in a tragic plane crash in 1972 en route to Nicaragua while delivering hurricane supplies.

A ceremony honoring local Puerto Ricans who aided relief in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria will also be held before the first game, and will be escorted by former Major Leaguers from Puerto Rico.

For the second game, on April 18, Puerto Rican musician Pedro Capo, who was instrumental in raising relief funding for the hurricane, will perform "La Borinqueña," and Daddy Yankee, who donated $1 million in relief, will throw out the first pitch.

There will also be a throng of special events, relief-project unveilings and school visits throughout the week in coordination with both clubs, MLB and the MLBPA. Lindor and Rosario will also visit their childhood schools as part of a youth-focused Play Ball event, and host a special Puerto Rico RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) game.

"As a Puerto Rican, it's an honor and a pleasure to have the opportunity to represent the Minnesota Twins," Rosario said in a press release by MLB. "I'm very happy and excited to be able to play in front of my family and friends which haven't had the opportunity to see me play in person in a Major League game.

"It will be emotional and bittersweet for me as my grandmother won't be there, but I know she will be watching me from heaven, these two games will be dedicated to her and I'm looking forward to put on a good show for my people. I'm happy because we will be able to bring happiness to my island after Hurricane Maria. These two days will be unforgettable for me and the island of Puerto Rico. People are extremely excited and happy to be able to witness Major League Baseball."

Lindor added: "I've been looking forward to this opportunity for a long time, and I couldn't be more excited now that these games are less than a week away. I have said many times that playing in Puerto Rico is a dream come true. I can't wait to take the field in front of the fans in my homeland. I'm sure it is going to be a moment that I'll never forget."

The Puerto Rico Series, which was announced by MLB, the MLB Players Association and MB Sports last June, will be the first official game on the Puerto Rico soil since the Mets and Marlins met there in June 2010. MLB also held games there in '01, '03 and '04.

The Twins and Indians are fitting clubs to play in the international showcase, with a handful of players who hail from Puerto Rico, and who represented their native land in last year's World Baseball Classic. In addition to Lindor and Rosario, Twins right-hander Jose Berrios and catcher Roberto Perez are from Puerto Rico.

Daniel Kramer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @dkramer_.

Cleveland Indians, Minnesota Twins