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Rays' postseason must include Dan Johnson

The Rays still have a couple of weeks before having to finalize their postseason roster of 25, but Dan Johnson blasted his way onto it this week. Johnson's pinch-hit, game-tying home run against the Red Sox in 2008 could have been considered lucky, one of those singular moments that would live on in Rays lore. His walk-off home run against the Red Sox on Aug. 28 made you raise an eyebrow, even though you had been grumbling that the Rays had a designated hitter that wasn't even batting .150.

After his two bombs against the Yankees earlier this week, his single with two outs in the ninth that led to the game-tying run Saturday night, and to a lesser extent his home run in a losing effort Friday night against the Angels, how can the Rays go into the postseason without him?

Looking at the Rays postseason roster from 2008, they took five infielders, six outfielders and one designated hitter. As far as the infield goes, Carlos Pena, Evan Longoria and Jason Bartlett are locks, which would leave two spots for Reid Brignac, Sean Rodriguez, Willy Aybar, and Johnson.

The outfielders are likely to include Carl Crawford, B.J. Upton, Ben Zobrist, Desmond Jennings and Matt Joyce. Rodriguez could be considered an outfielder and Aybar the DH, but then you still have to consider spots for Brad Hawpe and Rocco Baldelli, although those two haven't shown much. And the DH could also go to Kelly Shoppach or John Jaso if the Rays wanted to include Dioner Navarro as a catcher. Or the DH spot could go to Johnson.

Certainly there will be tough decisions to make but given Johnson's affinity for clutch home runs, the Rays need to make room for him in the playoffs when runs are at a premium. He's gone from fluky to freakish and he's earned his spot in the postseason.

Photographs by cstreet.us, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.