Indians ready to take final step with deep roster

The addition of Encarnacion makes defending AL champs even stronger

Indians ready to take final step with deep roster

MLB.com made Opening Day roster predictions for all 30 clubs prior to Spring Training and revisited the picks mid-way through camp. With Cleveland's season opener arriving Monday, let's take a look at what we got right and what we got wrong for the Indians.

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- One of the reasons the Indians claimed the American League pennant last season was their resiliency. When players got hurt, or others underperformed, Cleveland's players pulled together and embraced a next-man-up mentality.

In filling out their Opening Day roster, the Indians were again tested this spring.

"I think that's one of the good things we have in our clubhouse," Indians ace Corey Kluber said. "Nobody really takes the time to feel sorry for ourselves if somebody does get hurt. If something unfortunate happens, it seems like we have the mind-set of moving past it and looking toward, 'What's next? What do we need to do to either prevent it from happening again or make up for a loss?'"

Chisenhall runs into wall, exits

This spring, the Indians encountered a few unexpected setbacks that caused a ripple effect for the team's roster decisions. Lonnie Chisenhall crashed into the right-field wall at Sloan Park late in the spring, sustaining a right shoulder injury that shook up the outfield picture. Second baseman Jason Kipnis (right shoulder) also had a setback that will keep him out of the Opening Day mix.

As a result, there were decisions that came down to the final days of camp.

Here is a breakdown of the Tribe's Opening Day roster:

Catchers: Yan Gomes, Roberto Perez

There is no change here from the pre-spring predictions. Only injuries could have altered Cleveland's catching picture. Gomes and Perez got through Spring Training unscathed, so they will open as the No. 1 and No. 2 options behind the plate, respectively. Gomes heads in as the starter after a solid spring showing, but Perez could see more starts than a traditional backup.

Francona on Encarnacion's impact

First base: Edwin Encarnacion, Carlos Santana

There is no change here, either. Encarnacion signed a three-year, $60-million contract to be Cleveland's cleanup hitter, chose to skip the World Baseball Classic to get to know his new teammates and has fit in nicely in the clubhouse. He and Santana are close friends and were locker 'mates this spring. They will divvy up the duties at first and designated hitter, with Santana likely getting most of the time at first.

Second base: Jose Ramirez

During the mid-spring predictions, prospect Erik Gonzalez was listed here. At the time, the Indians did not have a firm graph on Kipnis' timetable for return, and manager Terry Francona was hesitant to move Ramirez off third base. With Kipnis likely out until mid-to-late April, Ramirez is poised to get the bulk of the innings at second base. Gonzalez will head to Triple-A Columbus to get regular at-bats and continue to develop as a utility man.

Shortstop: Francisco Lindor

As Francona likes to say, this is one of those spots you can "write in ink -- not pencil." Lindor starred for Puerto Rico during the World Baseball Classic and returned energized for the season ahead. The Gold Glove Award winner is one of baseball's bright young stars, and a big reason behind the Indians' success over the past two seasons.

Third base: Yandy Diaz

With Ramirez moving to second base, the third-base decision came down to Giovanny Urshela, Gonzalez and Diaz. After opening camp as an outfielder, Diaz moved back to third after the Kipnis injury came up and worked diligently on his defense. While Diaz is not at the same level as Urshela in the field, his standout offensive showing this spring convinced Cleveland to take a chance on the Cuban prospect.

Brantley's long solo homer

Starting outfield: Michael Brantley, Tyler Naquin and Abraham Almonte

Barring something unexpected, Brantley is expected to be on Cleveland's Opening Day roster. Brantley -- coming back from right shoulder and biceps woes -- played multiple stretches of consecutive games and has looked healthy and productive this spring. Naquin remains the projected center fielder. The Indians could go a few ways for right field with Chisenhall opening the year on the 10-day disabled list with Kipnis. Almonte (a switch-hitter) could start, or Brandon Guyer could get the nod for more than just lefties.

Bench: Guyer, Austin Jackson, Michael Martinez

This trio remains the same as during our mid-spring predictions. Expect both Guyer and Jackson to garner at-bats against left-handed pitching, with Jackson helping out in center field. The veteran Martinez won the utility job over Gonzalez. Francona loves the versatility and experience that the switch-hitting Martinez offers. He is not expected to get many at-bats, but rather serve as a late-inning defensive replacement and pinch-runner. His presence can help Francona make pinch-hitting decisions, knowing he has a sound defensive backup for multiple infield and outfield spots.

Kluber vs. Darvish

Rotation: Trevor Bauer, Carlos Carrasco, Kluber, Danny Salazar, Josh Tomlin

The five predicted starters before Spring Training will make up the rotation for Opening Day. Kluber will take the ball in the season opener, followed by (in order) Carrasco, Salazar, Tomlin and Bauer. This will mark Kluber's third straight Opening Day nod. Carrasco dealt with mild right elbow inflammation in the middle of camp, but recovered enough to get built up to four innings by his final Cactus League start.

Bullpen: Cody Allen, Shawn Armstrong, Boone Logan, Zach McAllister, Andrew Miller, Dan Otero, Bryan Shaw

The seven names here have remained the same since the pre-spring predictions. The seventh spot came down to Armstrong, Kyle Crockett, Carlos Frias and Nick Goody, each of whom had at least one Minor League option left. Armstrong got the nod after a solid spring. Had Francona gone with an eight-man bullpen, Goody would have likely been the next arm up. The manager described picking the seventh reliever as an "agonizing" decision.

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.