March 30, 2017

GOODYEAR, Ariz. (AP) Infielder Yandy Diaz has made Cleveland's opening-day roster after he was expected to start the season in the minor leagues.

Diaz, who batted .325 in 95 games at Triple-A Columbus last season, is considered one of the Indians' top prospects. The 25-year-old had an excellent spring camp and the AL champions have decided he's ready to make the jump.

Diaz could start at third base. The Indians have to shuffle players around with second baseman Jason Kipnis and right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall starting the season on the 10-day disabled list.

Manager Terry Francona said infielder Michael Martinez also has made the 25-man roster. Martinez appeared in 95 games for Cleveland last season and made the final out in Game 7 of the World Series.

Third baseman Giovanny Urshela and infielder Erik Gonzalez were optioned to Columbus.

''We spent a lot of time talking through this decision over the course of the last few days and met again this morning,'' general manager Chris Antonetti said Thursday. ''It was a difficult decision. We felt we had a lot of good alternatives and choices we could have chosen. It's a reflection of how Gio and Erik did as well in addition of how Yandy and Michael played. This puts us in a strong position to start the season.''

The Indians have not yet made a decision on whether Michael Brantley has a roster spot. He's playing in his third straight game Thursday and the club wants to assess his strength as he comes back from shoulder surgery.

Diaz could start at third base. The Indians have to shuffle players around with second baseman Jason Kipnis and right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall starting the season on the 10-day disabled list.

''Yandy's spring training was terrific. I think we all agree. If you look at Yandy's last year, we were trying to figure out a place for his bat,'' Francona said. ''That's why he was going to the outfield. It's not a kid who got 45 at-bats and never hit. He has been a good hitter and he's becoming a better hitter.''

Kipnis' injury forced the team to move Jose Ramirez from third to second at least to start the season.

''I always felt comfortable playing defense but the transition from outfield to third base wasn't extremely difficult but it was difficult,'' Diaz said through interpreter Anna Bolton. ''I'm just continuing to work hard to improve there.''

Diaz was apprehensive when he walked into Francona's office, fearing he would be sent to the minor leagues.

''I was super nervous when Chris and Tito called me in,'' Diaz said. ''I'm going to be 2,000 percent excited on opening day.''

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