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Hill Agrees to Minor League Deal With the Padres

By Chico Harlan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 24, 2009

JUPITER, Fla., March 23 -- In the end, Shawn Hill's unemployment lasted five days. Released by the Washington Nationals on Wednesday, Hill on Monday agreed to a minor league deal with the San Diego Padres, who hope that the right-hander can fulfill the potential that's showed itself so far only in glimpses.

Hill, drafted in 2000, was due to earn $775,000 this year with the Nationals but was released before that salary became guaranteed. Injuries limited him to 37 career starts with the organization that drafted him. At the time of his release, Washington officials said that Hill looked healthy but that they could no longer afford to count on such an uncertain commodity.

Hill also had drawn interest from the Toronto Blue Jays.

Holding All Calls

With two weeks remaining until Opening Day, the Nationals still have a crowded outfield and an undetermined starting rotation, an imbalance that can be fixed with a phone call and a trade. But acting general manager Mike Rizzo said on Monday that the Nationals feel comfortable settling the last two spots of their rotation from the three-man pool of 21- and 22-year-olds: Jordan Zimmermann, Collin Balester and Shairon Martis.

"We're not out combing the wires or making a lot of phone calls looking for starting pitchers," Rizzo said.

Rizzo guessed that the trade market would heat up as spring training reached its conclusion.

"Yeah, I think teams are waiting to see how things play out in their own camps; injuries always have a big part of it," he said. "And several deals you would have in the works would be pending on the health of the players on the prospective ballclubs."

Back to Work

Absent for much of the month while participating in the World Baseball Classic, Adam Dunn and Joel Hanrahan will return to the Nationals on Tuesday. And they'll get right to work, especially because both received several off days while representing Team USA.

"We only have a few days left, so they need to come over here and get to work," Manager Manny Acta said. . . .

Scott Olsen allowed seven hits in five innings Monday, a so-so outing that brought his spring ERA to 5.00. But the left-handed pitcher, acquired last November from Florida, said he was comfortable with the result -- especially because he was able to keep his pitches low in the strike zone. Most of St. Louis's hits against Olsen in Washington's 6-3 loss were grounders.

"I felt good," Olsen said. "The ball was coming out of my hand pretty well. Consistently we were down in the zone today."

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