"It's a tough call with everybody," manager Eric Wedge said of the roster composition. "We have to go with where we are right now and who's been out there performing for us."
The Indians decided on their postseason roster over the weekend in Kansas City, but kept it close to the vest all week. When the 10 a.m. ET deadline to submit the roster to the Commissioner's Office came Thursday, the Indians turned in a list that features utility infielder Chris Gomez, second baseman Josh Barfield, outfielders Jason Michaels and Trot Nixon, and catcher Kelly Shoppach in bench roles.
Nixon, a veteran of five postseasons with the Red Sox, was the former everyday right fielder before Franklin Gutierrez took over in August. He could be used as a left-handed bat off the bench.
"Trot's been a tremendous presence on this ballclub all year," Wedge said. "He has a great deal of postseason experience, and he knows these teams we're playing. He's a guy we can use as a left-handed bat off the bench, depending on how the game plays out."
Dellucci also could have been considered as a left-handed bat. But he's only had three at-bats since tearing his hamstring in mid-June and sitting on the disabled list for two and a half months.
"He's not at 100 percent yet," Wedge said. "There's always going to be disappointments when it comes to your postseason roster. There's no getting around it. David was just not to the point of being an option for us yet."
Gomez is an option at any of the four infield spots, Michaels will likely spell Kenny Lofton in left field against left-handed starter Andy Pettitte in Game 2, and Shoppach would likely catch Paul Byrd in Game 4.
Barfield, who had his everyday second base duties usurped by Asdrubal Cabrera in mid-August, is also on the roster as a potential pinch-runner or defensive replacement off the bench.
Ben Francisco was the odd man out, from a position player standpoint. When the Indians were handed the seven-day ALDS scenario, as opposed to the eight-day scenario that began Wednesday, they opted to carry 11 pitchers and 14 position players, rather than 10 and 15.
"He was right there," Wedge said of Francisco. "He offers a lot, but it wasn't so much about player versus player. It was about number of position players versus number of pitchers."
In the bullpen, fifth starter Aaron Laffey is tabbed as a potential long man. The rookie left-hander has never worked out of a bullpen in his career.
"He puts the ball on the ground," pitching coach Carl Willis said of Laffey earlier this week. "Even though he's never pitched out of a bullpen, he's a guy you could potentially bring in if they get something going and you need a double-play ball."
Laffey joins regular relievers Joe Borowski, Rafael Betancourt, Rafael Perez, Aaron Fultz, Jensen Lewis and Tom Mastny. The Indians are carrying three left-handed relievers in Perez, Fultz and Laffey, whereas the Yankees aren't carrying any.
Beyond the 25-man roster, the Indians will bring five extra players with them to New York this weekend.
Lee and Sowers, both of whom were formerly in the Tribe rotation this season before ending up at Triple-A Buffalo, will be on-hand, as will Dellucci, Francisco and infielder Luis Rivas. Should an injury occur, the Indians will have the option of swapping a position player for a position player or a pitcher for a pitcher.
The Indians' official Game 1 lineup against Yankees right-hander Chien-Ming Wang was as follows:
1. Grady Sizemore, CF
2. Asdrubal Cabrera, 2B
3. Travis Hafner, DH
4. Victor Martinez, C
5. Ryan Garko, 1B
6. Jhonny Peralta, SS
7. Kenny Lofton, LF
8. Franklin Gutierrez, RF
9. Casey Blake, 3B
Josh Barfield, IF; Chris Gomez, IF; Jason Michaels, OF
Trot Nixon, OF; Kelly Shoppach, C
Rafael Betancourt, Joe Borowski, Paul Byrd, Fausto Carmona
Aaron Fultz, Aaron Laffey, Jensen Lewis, Tom Mastny, Rafael Perez, C.C. Sabathia, Jake Westbrook