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Yankees Roster: Opening Day 2011 Approaching, Roster Taking Shape

The New York Yankees open the 2011 Major League Baseball regular season on Thursday at Yankee Stadium against the Detroit Tigers (1:05 p.m., YES/ESPN/MLB.TV). The opening day roster is becoming clearer, but Manager Joe Girardi and General Manager Brian Cashman still have a few decisions to make between now and when the Yankees head North following Tuesday's exhibition finale. Let's took look at the Opening Day roster.

Pitching Staff

Starters -- CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Phil Hughes, Ivan Nova, Freddy Garcia

Bullpen -- Mariano Rivera, Rafael Soriano, Boone Logan, Joba Chamberlain, David Robertson, Bartolo Colon. There is still one spot available.

Headed to the DL -- Pedro Feliciano. The Yankees signed him as a lefty specialist because of his durability over eight seasons with the New York Mets. He hasn't made it out of camp. Ugh! Let's hope the upper-arm tightness he is experiencing doesn't wind up wrecking his season.

Still In The Running -- Luis Ayala, Romulo Sanchez. With Feliciano down and Sergio Mitre traded, somebody has to get the last spot.

Waiting In The Wings -- Manuel Banuelos, Andrew Brackman, Dellin Betances, Kevin Millwood. Banuelos was the most impressive of the Yankees young pitchers this Spring, and you know there will be calls for him to be brought to the Bronx if Nova or Garcia flop. That, however, is what the Yankees kept Colon and signed Millwood for.

Last word: The Yankees have decided to go with the youngster Nova and the veteran Garcia, with Colon -- a long shot to make the team at the beginning of Spring Training -- in the long relief role. I'm not sure how well Colon, a former Cy Young Award winner, will adapt to the bullpen, but the Yankees seem enthusiastic about it.

Catchers

Russell Martin and ... Jesus Montero, Austin Romine or Gustavo Molina.

Last Word: With Francisco Cervelli on the disabled list with a broken foot there has been great excitement among Yankee fans about the possibility that Montero, the crown jewel of the farm system, would make the roster. Does it make sense for Montero or Romine to be in the big leagues catching once a week when they could be continuing to play every day and develop in the minors? The Yankees have not announced a decision. On Saturday, though, Molina caught all of the Yankees' front-line relievers -- which might offer a good indication that they don't want either of the youngsters sitting on the bench. Molina is a 29-year-old journeyman with 23 games of big-league experience.

Infielders

First Base -- Mark Teixeira
Second Base -- Robinson Cano
Shortstop -- Derek Jeter
Third Base -- Alex Rodriguez
Utility -- Eric Chavez and ... Ramiro Pena or Eduardo Nunez

Last word: As I write this, there has been no formal indication that Chavez had made the team. Chavez, though, has an out in his contract that allows him to ask for his release as of Saturday if he is not going to make the team. The former Oakland third baseman appears to be a lock to make the team as a backup third baseman and occasional first baseman. Indications are that Nunez will unseat Pena for the role of backup to Jeter and Cano. That job has belonged to the light-hitting Pena the past couple of seasons.

Outfielders

Brett Gardner, Nick Swisher, Andruw Jones.

Headed To The DL? -- Curtis Granderson. The Grandy Man has an oblique strain and has been termed "50-50" for Opening Day. If he isn't ready that opens a spot on the roster

Still In The Running -- Justin Maxwell, Chris Dickerson. The Yankees just got Dickerson in a trade for Sergio Mitre on Friday, and he got three hits on Saturday. No matter what, there is not room for both guys.

Designated Hitter

Jorge Posada -- The long-time Yankee catcher did not go behind the plate for a single inning during Spring Training. The Yankees list him as an emergency catcher, but it's pretty obvious they believe his days as a viable option behind the plate are done.