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2011 New York Yankees Roster: Curtis Granderson To Play, Luis Ayala Gets Final Spot

The New York Yankees have finalized their 25-man Opening Day roster in advance of Thursday's season opener at Yankee Stadium against the Detroit Tigers (1:05 p.m., YES). The biggest news is that it appears starting center fielder Curtis Granderson, nursing an oblique injury the past week or so of Spring Training, should be in the lineup against Detroit's Justin Verlander.

Let's break down the 25-man roster the Yankees will introduce Thursday afternoon -- weather permitting, of course.

C: Russell Martin
1B: Mark Teixeira
2B: Robinson Cano
3B: Alex Rodriguez
SS: Derek Jeter
LF: Brett Gardner
CF: Curtis Granderson
RF: Nick Swisher
DH: Jorge Posada

Comment: The big issue with this group is how Joe Girardi will set the lineup. All spring the question has been whether Brett Gardner or Derek Jeter will lead off. The answer is, in reality, both guys will depending on who is playing and whether a lefty or righty is pitching. For me, that is no big deal. I have another question. It look like Robinson Cano will stay in the fifth slot, where he hit last season. Why isn't Cano, the best pure hitter on the team, batting third with Mark Teixeira, perfect protection for Alex Rodriguez as a switch-hitter, in the five-hole?

IF: Eduardo Nunez
IF: Eric Chavez
OF: Andruw Jones
C: Gustavo Molina

Comment: No one saw Gustavo Molina opening the season as the backup catcher. He will likely be around until Francisco Cervelli recovers from his broken foot. Eric Chavez, a former star with Oakland whose career has been derailed by injuries, made the team as a caddy for Rodriguez and Teixeira at the corners. If he can stay healthy Chavez should give the Yankees the ability to keep Rodriguez fresh throughout the season. Nunez took the middle infield job away from incumbent Ramiro Pena.

LHP CC Sabathia
RHP A.J. Burnett
RHP Phil Hughes
RHP Ivan Nova
RHP Freddy Garcia

Comment: With this group, there is lots of pressure on CC Sabathia. He is an ace, and he needs to pitch like one. A.J. Burnett is the nominal No. 2 starter, and the Yankees need for him to pitch like it -- not like the guy who went 10-15 with an ERA above 5.00 a year ago. Ivan Nova and Freddy Garcia start the season as the fourth and fifth starters. Somehow, I don't think they finish it that way.

RHP Mariano Rivera
RHP Rafael Soriano
RHP Joba Chamberlain
RHP David Robertson
RHP Bartolo Colon
LHP Boone Logan
RHP Luis Ayala

Comment: Ayala got the final spot, which opened due to lefty specialist Pedro Feliciano being placed on the disabled list. The Yankees signed Feliciano to get big outs late in games, and because of his durability during eight years with the Mets. Let's hope this is not a bad sign. With Mariano Rivera and Rafael Soriano at the end of games, the Yankees should be pretty much a lock to win games if they can get to the seventh inning with a lead. They had better be, with the question marks surrounding their starting pitchers.

Disabled List
C Francisco Cervelli
LHP Pedro Feliciano