In addition to the expected cast of All-Stars and established players, the Yankees conducted organizational meetings on Wednesday morning and unanimously decided to carry relievers Ross Ohlendorf and Jose Veras, along with extra outfielder Bronson Sardinha -- only one of whom had ever seen a Major League inning before Sept. 1.
"It's going to be interesting for us to watch," said Yankees manager Joe Torre. "We obviously feel comfortable with putting this responsibility on their shoulders, but it is very different."
"They showed a lot of focus down the stretch, and they're on the playoff roster," catcher Jorge Posada said. "You hope that we'll be fine with all those kids."
Filling out the lineup against Indians starter C.C. Sabathia for Thursday also gave the Yankees something extra to think about, as Hideki Matsui made a late entry as the designated hitter, beating out rookie Shelley Duncan and former AL MVP Jason Giambi, who will be relegated to pinch-hitting duties off the bench.
Torre said that the Yankees considered Duncan over Matsui, who is 0-for-9 in his career against Sabathia, and also over Doug Mientkiewicz, who will get the start at first base. But with sinkerballer Chien-Ming Wang on the mound for New York, defense is at a premium, leading to the former Rawlings Gold Glove Award winner Mientkiewicz getting the nod.
The bench for the series opener will include backup catcher Jose Molina, utility man Wilson Betemit, Duncan and Sardinha.
"I was toying with messing with our lineup," Torre said, "inserting a couple of right-handers. I just decided that this group of guys, left-handed, right-handed, these are the guys that got us here. ... We're going to try to play and keep our mind-set on the little things that we've done to get here."
With Andy Pettitte pitching on Friday and Roger Clemens the probable Game 3 starter, New York has not yet settled on who would pitch in a Game 4, if necessary. A leading candidate appears to be veteran Mike Mussina, but he could also be challenged by rookie Phil Hughes, who has made the roster and could serve in long relief.
The Yankees' bullpen, anchored by closer Mariano Rivera and rookie setup man Joba Chamberlain, leads back to the middle innings with a bullpen of Ohlendorf, Veras, Luis Vizcaino and Kyle Farnsworth.
Torre said that Ohlendorf -- who allowed two earned runs in 6 1/3 innings after being called up in September, striking out nine and walking two -- presented one of the most difficult decisions for the Yankees, who are generally more used to going with veteran talent.
"We understand the lack of experience, and especially in Ohlendorf's situation, where he's only been a reliever for a couple of months," Torre said. "We had our final meeting this morning and it was unanimous making that choice based on his stuff and his makeup."
Posada said that Ohlendorf features a very "heavy" sinker, as well as a slider and a changeup that have drawn good results.
"I would say the last 10 games, he's opened some eyes," Posada said.
Left-hander Ron Villone perhaps presented the biggest example of changing attitudes; the 37-year-old appeared in 37 games for New York this season, but his 4.25 ERA and sparse usage down the stretch did not allow him to beat out Veras or Ohlendorf.
"It's just a very confident group of people," Torre said. "As I say, the composition of this club -- aside from the lack of left-handers coming out of the bullpen -- we feel good about it."
Game 1 Lineup:
1. Johnny Damon LF
2. Derek Jeter SS
3. Bobby Abreu RF
4. Alex Rodriguez 3B
5. Jorge Posada C
6. Hideki Matsui DH
7. Robinson Cano 2B
8. Melky Cabrera CF
9. Doug Mientkiewicz 1B
Wilson Betemit IF
Shelley Duncan OF
Jason Giambi DH
Jose Molina C
Bronson Sardinha OF
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less