The Washington Times - March 13, 2009, 07:09PM

The Nationals just announced they have signed right-hander Julian Tavarez to a non-guaranteed minor-league deal with an invitation to major-league camp.

Tavarez, who will be 35 in May, was 1-5 last year with a 5.10 ERA for three different teams last year. Like Kip Wells, who was signed on Wednesday, Tavarez is another low-risk addition to a young bullpen that has struggled all spring.

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Acting general manager Mike Rizzo said the Nationals contacted Tavarez after seeing him pitch for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball classic. He’ll likely be in camp early next week, though he’s still tied up with visa issues like Jorge Sosa and Carlos Alvarez (the former Esmailyn Gonzalez).

The Nationals would likely use him as a long reliever.

“There’s nothing wrong with competition in spring training,” Rizzo said. “We don’t want a lot of comfortable players in the clubhouse.”

Tavarez has made at least 29 appearances every year since 1995. If he makes the team, he’d add a reliable arm to the bullpen.

“He’s a guy with a rubber arm who can pitch a lot of innings, a lot of appearances, and never seems to tire or break down,” Rizzo said.