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03/23/09 7:35 PM ET

Padres sign Hill to Minor League deal

Right-hander in line to compete for final rotation spot

SAN DIEGO -- The Padres may have found a front-runner for the No. 5 spot in their starting rotation -- and he's from outside the organization.

The Padres signed 27-year-old right-handed pitcher Shawn Hill to a Minor League contract on Monday, less than a week after he was released by the Washington Nationals.

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Hill had reconstructive elbow surgery in 2005 and had another procedure last year to remove calcium deposits from his elbow.

Hill has a 7-15 record and a 4.93 ERA in 37 Major League starts with Montreal and the Nationals from 2004-2008. He was 1-5 with a 5.83 ERA in 12 starts with the Nationals last year.

The other candidate for the job, internally at least, is right-hander Walter Silva, who has pitched well in camp. Josh Geer, once considered a strong candidate for the No. 5 spot in the rotation, was optioned to Triple-A Portland on Monday.

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