Tavárez Added to Bullpen Mix

By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, March 14, 2009

KISSIMMEE, Fla., March 13 -- The Washington Nationals continued to look for bargains that might help their bullpen, signing veteran right-hander Julián Tavárez to a non-guaranteed minor league deal on Friday.

"There's nothing wrong with competition in spring training, and we don't want a lot of comfortable players in the clubhouse," acting general manager Mike Rizzo said. "It's this time in spring training to step up and make the club. Competition, that never hurts."

Tavárez, 35, who has pitched for 10 major league clubs in his 16-year career, posted a 5.10 ERA in 52 appearances with Boston, Milwaukee and Atlanta last year. The Nationals monitored his progress with the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic. If he were to make the team, it would likely be as a long reliever who would also be available for a spot start.

"He's a guy with a rubber arm," Rizzo said. "He can pitch a lot of innings, a lot of appearances, and he never appears to tire or break down."

Tavárez is in the Dominican Republic trying to get a visa, and the club hopes he will report early next week. He will make $500,000 if he makes the team.

Hill Progressing

Right-hander Shawn Hill had an encouraging bullpen session Friday, and it's possible he could appear in a game next week. Hill, who saw renowned orthopedist James Andrews earlier this spring because of a lingering and mysterious pain in his right arm, said he was pain-free Friday.

"I don't know what the difference was, and I guess, really, I don't care," Hill said. "I don't want to jinx anything."

Hill said his location "wasn't fantastic" and his "timing and delivery weren't good," but he hadn't been on a mound in 12 days. He played long toss from 200 to 300 feet for several days, and told a friend and fellow pitcher, "I haven't felt this good since 2006." . . .

Left-hander Scott Olsen threw four innings against the Astros on Friday night, allowing six hits and two runsincluding a homer to Hunter Pence. He would have gotten out of the first inning without a run allowed had third baseman Joel Guzman not stumbled as he attempted to start a double play. Brad Eldred homered for the Nationals in a game that went 10 innings and ended in a 2-2 tie. . . .

Catcher Jesús Flores, who hasn't played since Feb. 28 because of soreness in his right elbow, will throw Saturday to test it.

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