The Tampa Bay Rays opted to keep three catchers on their 25-man ALDS roster, picked veteran LHP J.P. Howell over Cesar Ramos, and went with reserve INF Elliot Johnson over either OF Justin Ruggiano or PH Dan Johnson. Also, RHP Jeff Niemann was left off the roster and RHP Wade Davis is in the bullpen.
Niemann was disappointed to be left off the ALDS roster, but understood and said he'll be ready for the second round, or if he needs to step in due to injury.
Niemann said it was "bad timing" that his upper back bothered him late in the season. His last outing was a one-inning start last Saturday against the Jays. Manager Joe Maddon said Niemann just hasn't looked right.
"It was disappointing to hear," Niemann said. "But we're doing everything we can, and I'll be ready for Round 2. That's where we're at right now, just bad timing. It is what it is and we're doing everything we can to get back out there and be a contributor."
Dan Johnson, who helped lift the Rays to the playoffs with his game-tying, solo homer with two strikes in the bottom of the ninth Wednesday, understood why he was left off, but will be ready to go if he needs to be an injury replacement this series.
"It's one of those things, you stay prepared and whatever is best for the team to win, that's what really matters," Johnson said. "You never know what's going to happen. I'll just stay positive, cheer my heart out and try to help out this team anyway I can."
Here is the 25-man roster for the ALDS; the roster can be changed if the Rays advance to the next round:
RH Jeremy Hellickson
LF Matt Moore
LH David Price
RH James Shields
RH Juan Cruz
RH Wade Davis
RH Kyle Farnsworth
RH Brandon Gomes
LH J.P. Howell
LH Jake McGee
RH Joel Peralta
Left off for this round: INF Dan Johnson, RHP Jeff Niemann, LHP Cesar Ramos, OF Justin Ruggiano, RHP Andy Sonnanstine.