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News » NOTES Julio trying to control his tendencies Castro gives reliever some straight talk

NOTES Julio trying to control his tendencies Castro gives reliever some straight talk

NOTES  Julio trying to control his tendencies  Castro gives reliever some straight talk
Milwaukee Brewers pitching coach Billy Castro and right-handed reliever Jorge Julio sat in the team's lunch room and had a heart-to-heart chat Tuesday afternoon.

It was honest. It was direct. It wasn't sugar-coated.

Castro asked Julio simply, "Do you realize how many teams (eight) you've been with at your age (30)?"

The reasons are a lack of command and a tendency to walk the ballpark.

"There has to be a reason, and that's the reason," Castro said. "I told him 'With the stuff you have, it's unbelievable that you've bounced around from club to club.'

"Sometimes people want to hear what will keep their head up. I'm going to tell him what I think. I wasn't putting him down, just telling the truth."

Castro had Julio in the bullpen nearly every day after his outing in Philadelphia when he pitched two-thirds of an inning, allowed two hits, walked three, including the pitcher, and allowed five runs.

They ironed out some mechanical issues and instead of having Julio throw from the windup with nobody on base, Castro had him throw strictly from the stretch as a way to simplify his motion.

"I told him most of his toughest pitches are going to be made out of the stretch, anyway," Castro said. "It's all about confidence, if you feel comfortable and what you believe in your mind.

"Right now he's looking for answers. I said just make it simple, like playing catch with a catcher."

The results were evident Tuesday night against Pittsburgh.

Julio looked like a completely different pitcher when compared to his first four outings, and not just because of his changed mechanics. He entered the game with a 10.80 earned run average over those four appearances and was wild - seven walks in five innings - but of his 14 pitches against Pittsburgh, 10 were strikes and he retired the Pirates in order.

"I think it's just working a lot in the bullpen," Julio said. "I changed my mechanics. . . . I'm more consistent and throwing more strikes. I'm more aggressive to the hitters."

That's huge for the Brewers because it was looking like through four outings, the bullpen was going to be down a pitcher in tight situations because Macha couldn't trust Julio in a close game.

But that could be changing.

"We've been using the bullpen a lot, so we need to be able to use everybody," Macha said Tuesday.

"You gotta give Billy some credit here. (Julio) had a clean inning, that's one thing. But he's right around the plate. That's been his problem his whole career, walking people."

Rivera on DL: Backup catcher Mike Rivera, who sprained his left ankle after Pirates runner Brian Bixler slid into it on a play at the plate Tuesday night, had X-rays that came out negative. However, after further evaluation by team physician William Raasch, the Brewers placed Rivera on the disabled list and called up catcher Carlos Corporan from Nashville.

Rivera, who was buried on the bench behind Jason Kendall last season, was getting regular playing time since Macha paired him with Dave Bush every fifth game. That makes this injury all the more disappointing for the 32-year-old catcher.

"Now that I have the chance to play a little bit more, this injury comes," said Rivera, who had crutches propped against his locker.

Casey McGehee served as the backup catcher on Wednesday with Rivera out and Corporan not with the team yet.

McGehee hasn't caught a game in a Brewers uniform but appeared in 93 games as a catcher in the Chicago Cubs' minor-league system.

The only time McGehee has squatted behind the plate this season has been to warm up pitchers between innings.

"He's doing well on first pitches," Macha said. "Particularly balls in the dirt."

Copyright 2009, Journal Sentinel Inc. All rights reserved. (Note: This notice does not apply to those news items already copyrighted and received through wire services or other media.)

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Added: April 30, 2009

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