09/30/2003 1:02 PM ET
Yankees notes: ALDS roster set
Bronx bombers elect to go with 11-man pitching staff
NEW YORK -- Joe Torre settled on his final roster for the American League Division Series, as both Jeff Weaver and David Dellucci made the cut for the first-round series against the Minnesota Twins.
By Mark Feinsand / MLB.com
The odd-man-out was Erick Almonte, the rookie infielder who had been New York's only backup infielder behind Enrique Wilson.
"He was here in case I used Wilson as a pinch-runner," said Torre of Almonte. "I'm comfortable enough to use Dellucci as a runner that I have Wilson back without having to have another infielder in reserve."
Dellucci, who missed most of the final month of the season with a sprained left ankle, was informed by Torre on Tuesday morning that he had been added to the playoff roster.
"All of the hard work I put in while in Tampa paid off," Dellucci said. "I'm prepared to do anything they ask me to do. I'm ready to go."
Dellucci will serve as the first pinch-runner off the bench, and can also play all three outfield positions. He was acquired in a July trade with Arizona that sent Raul Mondesi to the Diamondbacks. After injuring his ankle in late August, Dellucci rehabbed at the Yankees' training complex in Tampa, making his return on Sunday in the season finale.
"I'm really pleased with going double-duty in Tampa," Dellucci said. "It came down to the wire, but it worked out well. It's like a reward for all of the work I put in."
The move leaves Wilson as the only backup infielder on the roster, giving Torre few options should one of his starters get hurt.
"We've done it all year. If it happens, it happens," Torre said. "It's the same danger of carrying two catchers. If one of them gets hurt in Game 1, we're stuck."
Weaver's spot on the roster means that the Yankees will go with an 11-man pitching staff, something unusual for Torre during his eight-year tenure with New York. With Jose Contreras expected to fill a late-inning role out of the Yankees' bullpen, Weaver steps into the job of long-man, should something happen to one of New York's starters early in a game.
"We hope we don't need him," Torre said, "but there is that possibility that, God forbid, one of your starters takes a line drive and gets hurt, that we'll need a long man."
Weaver, whose season has been marred by inconsistency in both starting and relief roles, was pleased to learn that he had been selcted for the ALDS roster.
"This is a chance to make the best out of a tough season," Weaver said. "Hopefully I'll get an opportunity and I can do some damage. I'll do anything they want. I'm here, that's the important thing, and I'm excited about it."
The move may also be a way for Torre to show that he still has faith in Weaver, who went 7-9 with a 5.99 ERA this season.
"That's the positive of it," Weaver said. "It makes me feel good to know that those guys are still going to bat for me. I know I'm still capable of doing a good job."
"I hope he takes it that way," Torre said. "But I can't afford the luxury of that having been the main reason."
Torre said that should the Yankees advance to the ALCS, he would likely stay with the 11-pitcher roster.
"Probably, unless something we see in the first round makes us change our mind," Torre said. "Until you find a player that is going to make more of an impact than being a safety valve, then the 11th pitcher makes sense even though we've never done it before."
Day by day: The Yankees are accustomed to playing in prime time during the postseason, so Tuesday's day game is a bit of an oddity for the Bronx Bombers. That said, Torre wasn't complaining about the early start time.
"We spend so much time complaining about games starting at 8:40 p.m., so 1 p.m. is nice," Torre said. "It's a throwback to my childhood, for sure, when World Series games were in the afternoon."
New York's record in day games this season was 35-26, a .573 winning percentage. In day games in the Bronx, the Yankees were 21-17, a .552 clip. By contrast, New York was 66-35 (.653) in night games, including a 29-15 mark at home (.659).
"We haven't played as well in the daytime, which our record tells us, but I don't think that overrides that this is a postseason game," Torre said. "That takes front and center."
Torre said that he was happier to start at 1 p.m. ET rather than 4 p.m. ET, when shadows come into play as the sun starts to set. He isn't anticipating any problems for his outfielders, who played day games throughout the season.
"We played at 1 p.m. all year, even this past weekend," Torre said. "I'm not saying there won't be a problem, but I don't think it's anything different than we had to deal with all season."
Decisions, decisions: The Yankees have not announced whether Mike Mussina or David Wells will start a possible Game 4 on Sunday in Minnesota, and Torre plans on waiting until at least Friday before making that decision.
"I'm going to watch the first couple of games when we throw a right-hander and a left-hander against this club and see if there's any reason to favor one over the other," Torre said. "I don't sense there will be, but I just want to take a look and see."
Mussina's 20-2 career record against the Twins could be a factor in Torre's decision, though Wells is 18-6 in his career against the Twins, including a 2-0 mark and 0.50 ERA this season. Torre plans on announcing Sunday's starter before Game 3.
"I'm not trying to be mysterious here," Torre said. "It will be a feel thing more than anything else."
Mark Feinsand is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.