Julio expected to pitch Thursday

Julio expected to pitch Thursday

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. -- Right-hander Jorge Julio is expected to return to the mound on Thursday when the Indians host the Rays in a 1:05 p.m. ET game at Chain of Lakes Park.

Julio, who left Monday's game against Philadelphia after four batters because of a blister on his right index finger, played catch Wednesday afternoon.

"[The blister]'s OK, they put some [ointment] on it yesterday and I didn't throw; today, I feel good," Julio said shortly before most of his teammates boarded buses for Wednesday night's game against the Mets in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

Julio, a 29-year-old non-roster invitee, is one of several candidates in the running for a bullpen spot.

Julio didn't have any blister problems last season, but he has in the past, though infrequently.

"A day or two [off] was all [I needed]," Julio said. "It happens sometimes when I cut my [finger] nail too short. I get a blister. That's what happened this time. It's no big deal."

Julio is 0-1 with a 2.57 ERA this spring. He has allowed two earned runs and has struck out eight in as many innings.

"I think he's had a good camp, he's thrown the ball well," Indians manager Eric Wedge said. "He's made some adjustments along the way; he's had some good work days on the side."

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Julio spent most of last season with the National League champion Rockies, where he was 0-3 with a 3.93 ERA in 58 appearances. He began the year with the Marlins after having been acquired from the D-backs near the end of Spring Training. The right-hander pitched 10 games for the Marlins before he was dealt to the Rockies.

The Indians are intrigued by Julio as a possible late-inning option. The club also likes the fact that he has been effective against left-handed hitters. Julio held lefties hitters to a .227 batting average (22-for-97) and no home runs last year.

Paul Byrd will start Thursday, with Julio, Masa Kobayashi, Tom Mastny and Rafael Perez among those scheduled to appear in relief.

"We're looking at [Thursday] or the next day [for Julio]," Wedge said. "We'll see how [the blister] looks [Thursday], it looks pretty good today. We may push him back a day but we'll see how it looks [Thursday]."

Julio owns a Major League record of 13-33, with 99 saves and a 4.35 ERA in 411 relief appearances with the Orioles, Mets, D-backs, Marlins and Rockies.

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