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 Tribe, Julio agree to Minor League deal

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PostSubject: Tribe, Julio agree to Minor League deal   Thu Jan 31, 2008 12:42 pm

Tribe, Julio agree to Minor League deal
Former closer invited to camp, will battle for bullpen spot
By Anthony Castrovince / MLB.com

CLEVELAND -- An Indians team that appeared to be heading into Spring Training with its bullpen all but set has a new and intriguing name to add to the mix.

The Tribe reached an agreement on Thursday with veteran reliever Jorge Julio on a one-year Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training camp. Julio began the 2007 season with the Marlins before becoming an important cog in the Rockies' bullpen down the stretch.

Consider Julio, 28, a candidate for the final spot in the Indians bullpen. The first six spots are expected to be filled by closer Joe Borowski, setup men Rafael Betancourt, Rafael Perez and Masahide Kobayashi, right-hander Jensen Lewis and left-hander Aaron Fultz.

Tom Mastny, who has pitched out of the Tribe 'pen the past two seasons, was the early favorite to land the last spot, but Julio's invite gives him a chance to make an impact this spring. Three other non-roster invitees -- right-handers Rick Bauer, Matt Ginter and Jeff Harris -- also have big league bullpen experience.

When last we saw Julio, he was giving up a two-run homer to the Padres' Jerry Hairston in the top of the 13th inning of the National League Wild Card tiebreaker. That homer looked as if it would cost the Rockies a playoff berth, but they managed to rally in their final at-bat. The Rockies ended up leaving Julio off their roster for the postseason, citing his sore neck.

Before the late-season neck problems and the meltdown against the Padres, Julio was a stabilizer in the Colorado 'pen. In his first 24 appearances with the team after his May acquisition from the Marlins, he posted a 2.38 ERA and limited opponents to a .213 average.

For the '07 season, Julio, a native of Venezuela, went 0-5 with a 5.23 ERA in 68 games. He was tough on left-handers, holding them to a .227 average with no homers.

In his seven-year career, which began with the Orioles and has included stints with the Mets and Diamondbacks, Julio is 13-33 with a 4.35 ERA and 99 saves. His best season came in 2003, when he saved 36 games for Baltimore.

Tribe pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training camp in Winter Haven, Fla., on Feb. 14.


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