03/06/09 4:30 PM ET
Jeter, Rollins to alternate for Team USA
Shortstops will start every other game in World Baseball Classic
By Ed Eagle / MLB.com
Who will he start at shortstop? Will it be Yankees captain and nine-time All-Star Derek Jeter or 2007 National League MVP Jimmy Rollins?
The answer was, well, both.
Johnson plans to alternate the pair from game to game, with Jeter getting the nod in Saturday's opener against Canada. Rollins will start in Team USA's second game, which will come on either Sunday or Monday, depending on the outcome of the Saturday game.
"From a manager's standpoint, I love having them," said Johnson. "Both of them are great players. But there's a possibility we could only play eight games in 17 days, and I can't get them both in ... for eight games.
"It' a great problem to have, but I worry about playing time and them coming out of here with a great experience."
After discussions with both players, Johnson decided that the two would play full games rather than sub in for each other in the middle innings of each game, as often happens during All-Star Games.
"I think, especially this time in the spring, that third and fourth at-bat, really, a guy starts being comfortable," Johnson said. "And to take either one of them out and put another guy in and start all over again, I'm not a fan of that."
Jeter, for his part, seemed comfortable with the plan.
"[Johnson] talked to us both about it," Jeter said. "I'm sure we'll both get our share of playing time."
While a strategy is in place to address the shortstop logjam, Johnson wasn't quite ready to anoint a closer for Team USA. Heath Bell, Joel Hanrahan, J.J. Putz and Jonathan Broxton are four options to fill the role.
"We haven't had that meeting yet," Johnson said. "We have actually about four candidates that can close.
"At this time of the spring, it's really who ... has better command of their stuff."
Ed Eagle is an editorial producer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.