Indians reveal planned Opening Day roster

Indians reveal planned Opening Day roster

Indians reveal planned Opening Day roster
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Justin Germano walked over to a round table in the middle of the Indians' clubhouse on Monday, unable to hold back a grin as he approached a group of his teammates in the middle of a card game.

One player looked up from his hand. Then, another followed suit. And when the group of pitchers realized the magnitude of the moment, they began standing from their chairs, offering high-fives to Germano. He had just been informed that he made Cleveland's Opening Day roster.

"I was a little unsure," Germano said. "I knew they were supposed to make some final moves today, but everyone had such a great Spring Training. I didn't really know which route they were going to go."

It was good news for Germano and a few others. Bad news was delivered to even more. That is what made Monday a tough day for manager Manny Acta and general manager Chris Antonetti. Both called the players into Acta's office to deliver and discuss the organization's decisions.

After the morning's meetings concluded, the Indians revealed their planned Opening Day squad. The final three spots in the bullpen went to Vinnie Pestano, Frank Herrmann and Germano. Lou Marson won the reserve catching role and Adam Everett got the nod as the utility infielder.

That meant the end of the spring road for a handful of others.

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"It's bittersweet," Pestano said. "I'm happy for myself, but I'm also sad for the guys who weren't as fortunate as I was."

While Germano was rewarded with high-fives, Jayson Nix received some handshakes of support. Nix and infielder Luis Valbuena were told they did not make the team, and they were quick to clean out their lockers. Reliever Jess Todd and catchers Luke Carlin and Paul Phillips did not make the cut, either.

Officially, Todd and Valbuena were optioned to Triple-A Columbus, while Carlin and Phillips were re-assigned to Minor League camp. Nix, along with outfielders Jordan Brown and Chad Huffman, are all still technically on the roster, but none of them are in the plans for Opening Day.

"It's never easy," Acta said. "We made some tough decisions, but at the end of the day, we did what we felt was best for us."

Barring injuries, or any unforeseen developments prior to Opening Day, the Indians' active roster for the start of the season is now set. Cleveland opens the 2011 campaign on Friday with a 3:05 p.m. ET affair against its American League Central rivals from Chicago.

The Tribe's pitching staff includes starters Fausto Carmona, Carlos Carrasco, Justin Masterson, Josh Tomlin and Mitch Talbot. The bullpen will consist of closer Chris Perez, plus fellow right-handers Chad Durbin, Herrmann, Germano and Pestano and lefties Rafael Perez and Tony Sipp.

The Indians' starting lineup features first baseman Matt LaPorta, second baseman Orlando Cabrera, shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, third baseman Jack Hannahan, designated hitter Travis Hafner, catcher Carlos Santana, left fielder Austin Kearns, center fielder Michael Brantley and right fielder Shin-Soo Choo.

The bench will consist of outfielders Travis Buck and Shelley Duncan, Marson and Everett.

Buck, Hannahan, Germano and Everett are not currently on the Tribe's 40-man roster, which stands at 39. That means three subsequent transactions are required prior to Thursday's deadline for setting the roster.

"That will be a challenge," Antonetti said.

Two of the pending moves seem clear.

Antonetti indicated that the Indians will try to find a trading partner for Nix, who will be designated for assignment if no deal is struck in the next few days. If he clears waivers, Nix has the option of declining an outright assignment to the Minor Leagues. Either way, he will be removed from the 40-man roster.

Then there is outfielder Trevor Crowe, who has been sidelined for the entirety of Spring Training with a right rotator cuff injury. He is scheduled to head to New York on Wednesday for a surgical consultation with Dr. David Altcheck. Crowe is a candidate for the 60-day disabled list, which would take him off the roster.

Center fielder Grady Sizemore (left knee), infielder Jason Donald (fractured left middle finger) and reliever Joe Smith (strained abdominal muscle) are expected to begin the season on the 15-day disabled list. Reliever Doug Mathis was granted his unconditional release.

For Acta, being able to hand out good news helped balance out the difficulty of decision day.

"You need those, because you go through a few bad moments in there," Acta said. "When you get a guy like Germano, and you get a guy like Pestano, those are kind of the positive side of the whole breaking news day."

The players who made the team each entered camp under unique circumstances.

Germano was pitching in Japan two years ago, and he was removed from the Indians' 40-man roster over the winter prior to re-signing on a Minor League deal. The right-hander has not allowed a run in eight Cactus League appearances, making it easy for the Tribe to put him in the 'pen.

Herrmann -- with 40 big league games under his belt -- signed with Cleveland as an undrafted free agent in 2005 and is the first player from Harvard to reach the Majors since 1990. All the 26-year-old did was allow one run over 10 spring outings.

"I've felt like I've gotten better," Herrmann said. "I feel like I'm better this spring than I was last spring, or at any time last year."

Marson, 24, is a former top prospect and was a key piece obtained in the 2009 trade that sent Cliff Lee to the Phillies. The Indians were considering sending him to Triple-A Columbus for regular at-bats, but the team believes his defensive ability can be a great asset to the club.

Pestano is the lone rookie in the lot after appearing in just five games with the Indians a year ago. He is only two years removed from a right elbow injury -- the same joint he blew out one month before being selected in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft. This spring, he has 12 strikeouts in eight innings.

The 34-year-old Everett, who was released by the Tigers last season, was considering retirement if the Indians did not offer him a job. He mentally came to terms with that possibility, allowing for a relaxing spring. Then, Everett played strong defense and hit .293 in Cactus League play.

"This is as excited as I've been since my rookie year," Everett said.

With the Opening Day roster established, the Indians are excited about the possibilities.

"I think we have a good balance of young players that are entering the primes of their career," Antonetti said, "and [they] really should take a step forward developmentally. That's balanced by a group of veterans that should complement them and help lead the way.

"We're confident in the group of guys that we have. It's a roster that has the potential to be a very good team. Now, we have to go out there and win games."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.