By Stephanie Storm
Beacon Journal sports writer
CLEVELAND: The Indians wild-card roster will be made public this morning. In the meantime, General Manager Chris Antonetti wasn’t letting any pertinent information slip.
When asked if former closer Chris Perez would be on the roster, Antonetti deadpanned: “You’ll find out tomorrow.”
In truth, determining whether the team’s deposed closer should be on the roster for one do-or-die game likely held the least debate among team officials.
“There actually are a number of tough decisions [to make],” Antonetti said. “There are a lot of guys deserving to be on the roster [today]. But obviously the wild-card one-game format’s different than a more traditional, longer postseason series. So, there’s different ways you can configure it.”
Francona recently talked about his desire to go with a nine-man bullpen, which drew a smile when the information was relayed to Antonetti.
“Tito — that’s all he wants is a nine-man bullpen?” he said. “I had to talk him down from a 24-man bullpen. He’d have relievers in the outfield.”
Looks like a go
Indians center fielder and leadoff hitter Michael Bourn tested his sore left leg before the team’s workout Tuesday night with some agility work in outfield and running the bases.
It seemed like a good sign when Bourn, who felt tightness in the lower part of his hamstring — where it attaches to his calf behind the knee — while attempting to steal second base in the ninth inning Sunday in Minnesota, fist-bumped Antonetti after the pre-practice warmup session.
“The work he’s done so far is encouraging,” Antonetti said. “He looked good. I could have had a running head start and not run nearly as well as he ran.”
The Indians have not settled on a closer since Perez, who continues to battle control issues, was removed from the role after his meltdown late Thursday. However, Tribe officials have something they think is even better: Justin Masterson as a secret weapon.
That’s what Francona has taken to calling the Tribe’s former ace, who has been used as a reliever since he’s not stretched out enough to start following a three-week stint on the disabled list with a strained oblique.
“I think of Masty as a weapon,” Francona said. “We have the guy we sent to the All-Star Game available to pitch whenever. It’s a luxury.”
Masterson continues to say he’s thrilled to be able to contribute again in any way.
“I’m just happy to be pitching again,” he said of his unspecified relief role. “To have the opportunity to be out of the bullpen is fun. I’ve had three outings and it’s been good so far. The side is holding up, the arm is holding up and we’re deep into the season.”
Win or go home
Baseball is a game built around series, not one-game sudden-death games. That’s what makes the wild-card setup so unusual.
“You can either embrace it or you can moan about it,” Francona said. “I would rather embrace it and hope we win.”
When Antonetti was asked how he feels about a one-game playoff dictating whether his team continues on in the postseason, he was a little more blunt.
“It’s exciting for the fans,” Antonetti said. “If I had my preference, it would probably be a little bit of a different structure. There’s some creative ideas that have been discussed but it is what it is.”
One idea Antonetti shared came from this year’s general managers meetings, a thought that Chicago Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein suggested.
“We actually had a pretty good discussion,” Antonetti said. “Theo had the idea of playing a doubleheader on one day and then if needed, play the following day so you can condense it down to two days. I like that better because it gives you an opportunity to play three games if you need to. I don’t think anything’s on the horizon for changing anytime soon, though.”
The best one-liner of the day belongs to Francona, who continues to make light of the situation that led to his ouster in Boston, perhaps so that it can’t be a distraction moving forward. When an out-of-town reporter framed his question with the phrase “besides the absence of chicken and beer,” Francona interrrupted briefly.
“And I lied about that, we have had some chicken,” Francona injected, eliciting enough laughs to diffuse a potential uncomfortable exchange.
Stephanie Storm can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Indians blog at http://www.ohio.com/indians. Follow her on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/SStormABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.