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03/25/08 6:35 PM ET

Tribe's roster picture comes into focus

Julio favorite for relief job; Marte benefits as Barfield is optioned

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. -- The Indians expect to have their Opening Day roster finalized before they head up to Atlanta for a pair of exhibition games this weekend. They took another step toward that goal after Tuesday's win over the Yankees.

Non-roster invitee Jorge Julio was essentially named the winner of a vacant bullpen spot. Julio was added to the 40-man roster, taking the spot of deposed left-hander Aaron Fultz, who was designated for assignment. The Indians will have 10 days to trade or release Fultz, who is due to make $1.5 million this year.

Julio, who was not around for comment after the game, won the job by putting up a 1.64 ERA in nine outings this spring, striking out 13 batters and walking seven in 11 innings of work.

In other roster news, veteran right-hander Scott Elarton, who had been competing with Tom Mastny and Julio for a bullpen job, was informed he will be opening the season at Triple-A Buffalo.

Lastly, second baseman Josh Barfield, who had a solid spring, was optioned to Buffalo, all but clinching Andy Marte's spot on the 25-man roster.

All that's really left for the Tribe is to nail down one other spot in the 'pen, and that job is Craig Breslow's to lose. Breslow was plucked off waivers from the Red Sox on Sunday, presumably to take Fultz's spot as the situational lefty.

Breslow, who is out of Minor League options, made his debut with the Indians on Tuesday, pitching a perfect ninth inning to get the save in the 7-5 victory over the Yanks.

"I would like my performance to dictate what happens," Breslow said.

Manager Eric Wedge said he plans to use Breslow at least once and possibly twice more in the exhibition season, which seems to indicate that Breslow will be breaking with the big league club.

None of this bodes well for Mastny, who came into camp with the upper hand in the bullpen battle and is probably Buffalo-bound. Mastny, who spent all of last season with the Tribe, had a 6.75 ERA in eight outings. After the game, he said he had not been informed of any decisions.

"No offense," Mastny said, "but I'm sick of talking about it."

That Elarton was even a contender for a job is a testament to how seamlessly he made the transition to relief work and how well he's responded to the third right shoulder surgery of his career, which was performed in 2006.

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"I don't know if they expected much from me," said Elarton, who had a 2.03 ERA in nine spring appearances. "But with the way I pitched, I felt I exceeded my expectations and I definitely exceeded theirs. I definitely feel I can pitch in the big leagues again after three shoulder surgeries."

Elarton has an out clause in his contract. If he is not on the Indians' big league roster by June 30, he can look for work elsewhere.

In the infield, the second utility spot was all but promised to Marte long ago. He is out of Minor League options, and the Indians, thinking he might be their third baseman of the future, don't want to lose him.

Marte, though, has responded with a very inconsistent camp. His three-run homer in the eighth inning of Tuesday's win bumped his spring average to .204. He has made six errors in the field, including a pair of miscues on gimme grounders on Tuesday.

Apparently, Marte's surprising defensive struggles haven't cost him any standing in the organization.

"He's had off-and-on moments defensively this spring," Wedge said. "He's always proven himself to be a good defender. But there's been times this spring when he's been a little in between. It's been more about the lower half and helping him get in a better position to receive the baseball."

With Asdrubal Cabrera locked in at second base, the Indians prefer to have Barfield, who was their Opening Day second baseman a year ago, playing every day at Buffalo.

In the outfield, the sore left forearm that kept David Dellucci out of action last week doesn't appear as though it will keep him from breaking camp with the club. That means Ben Francisco, who has had an electric camp, is likely ticketed for Buffalo as well.

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.