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