WINTER HAVEN, Fla. (AP) - Ryan Garko, whose every move at first
base was scrutinized this spring, did enough to earn a spot on the
Cleveland Indians' opening day roster.
Utility infielder Mike Rouse and reliever Tom Mastny also made
the team, which announced its roster Wednesday when it assigned
outfielders Shin-Soo Choo and Ben Francisco and left-hander Juan
Lara to Triple-A Buffalo. Infielder Luis Rivas was reassigned to
Garko, a first baseman who drove in 45 runs in 50 games last
season, landed the most hotly contested spot on the roster by
batting .279 with 10 RBIs so far this spring, second on the team.
The former catcher will platoon with Victor Martinez at first base.
Francisco hit .293 in spring training and played solid defense
at all three outfield positions, but the Indians already have
plenty of outfielders - David Dellucci, Jason Michaels, Grady
Sizemore, Trot Nixon and Casey Blake. Another outfielder, Franklin
Gutierrez, will begin the season on the disabled list with a pulled
Rouse beat out Rivas for the utility infield spot by batting
.366 and showing himself to be a capable shortstop. Rivas,
Minnesota's opening day second baseman for five years, hit .200
this spring and has only eight games of big-league experience at
Mastny will replace the injured Matt Miller in the bullpen. The
right-hander was 5-of-7 in save situations during a brief audition
as Cleveland's closer last fall.