The Washington Times - March 11, 2009, 05:18PM

The Nationals announced late this afternoon they have signed right-hander Kip Wells to a non-guaranteed minor-league deal, adding the 31-year-old veteran presumably to bolster a bullpen that has struggled all spring.

Wells made 25 appearances last season with Colorado and Kansas City, starting two games and making 13 of his appearances in the eighth inning or later. He was the White Sox’ first-round pick in 1998, but has had a largely disappointing career with six teams. His best season was 2003, when he went 10-9 with a 3.28 ERA in 197 1/3 innings with the Pirates. But he hasn’t ended a season with an ERA under 5.00 since 2004.

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Acting general manager Mike Rizzo said Wells threw a 50-pitch bullpen session for scout Jimmy Gonzalez on Monday in Houston, reaching 90-93 mph with his fastball and throwing a slider and changeup. He said team doctor Wiemi Douoguih gave Wells a clean bill of health after a physical.

“We don’t have delusions of grandeur, but we think he’s going to have a chance to come in, he’ll opportunity to prove himself, have a shot at a bullpen spot and possible a move up to the rotation,” Rizzo said. “We’re not sure where he’s at spring training-wise, but we know he’s got good stuff and a good arm.”

Wells’ deal will pay him $500,000 if he makes the big-league roster.