Julio to pitch earlier in games

Julio to pitch earlier in games

ATLANTA -- In hopes of helping Jorge Julio regain his confidence, Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez has revised the reliever's role.

Gonzalez on Friday said Julio would pitch earlier in the game instead of the closer role, and that the closer spot would be determined by the matchups of the day.

"That's the plan," Gonzalez said. "We want to get him [Julio] comfortable, get his confidence and let him work on his stuff."

The right-hander will most likely pitch in earlier innings and may even go with two-inning stints to gain his consistency.

Closer candidates would include Henry Owens, Taylor Tanklersley, Matt Lindstrom, Kevin Gregg and Randy Messenger.

In five games, Julio is 0-1 with a 14.73 ERA, giving up six earned runs in 3 2/3 innings, while walking six without recording a strikeout.

Julio has allowed runs in three of his five outings. On April 4, he was unable to protect a two-run lead in the ninth inning and lost to the Nationals. Also on Sunday, he entered with a two-run lead against the Phillies at home. The veteran was lifted with the bases loaded and one out, and Lee Gardner was able to shut the door without surrendering a run.

Julio had a chance to close out Tuesday night's game, but he allowed the tying run in the ninth and Milwaukee was able to force extra innings.

Obtained from the Diamondbacks in a trade for right-hander Yusmeiro Petit the last week of Spring Training, Julio was brought in to offer a veteran presence in the closer role. He has 99 career saves.

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