The Washington Times - June 19, 2012, 03:24PM

The Nationals added a little more veteran presence to their catching depth on Tuesday afternoon, signing catcher Koyie Hill to a minor league deal. Hill became a free agent on June 17 after he was designated for assignment by the Chicago Cubs and elected free agency instead of reporting to Triple-A.

Hill appeared in 11 games this season with the Cubs hitting .179 with a .179 on-base percentage and a .205 slugging percentage. He’s a career .210 hitter with a .271 on-base and .294 slugging in 313 games over nine years. This season alone he’s spent spring training with the St. Louis Cardinals, played under former Nationals manager Jim Riggleman for Double-A Pensacola (the Reds affiliate) and then caught on with the Cubs.


The Nationals lost catcher Wilson Ramos to a torn ACL, and subsequently Sandy Leon to a high ankle sprain, in mid-May, shortly after Hill signed with the Cubs. When the question came up then about whether or not the Nationals would look for catching help, Hill was used as an example by a source as the type of player the Nationals could consider — indicating they weren’t interested in going out and trading for a starter, happy with Jesus Flores.

But what Hill could provide is more of a traditional backup to Flores at the major leagues.

Jhonatan Solano has done an admirable job thus far in his brief stint and Leon is in the process of getting healthy, but it gives the Nationals another option at the position and allows, if they feel it’s necessary, for their two prospects (Leon, Solano) to get everyday playing time elsewhere. 

Hill will report to Triple-A Syracuse.

– Cole Kimball took a big step in his rehab from 2011 rotator cuff surgery when he reported to the Nationals Gulf Coast League affiliate to begin a rehab assignment. 

Kimball, who pitched in just 12 major league games last year before going down with shoulder soreness, still has a long road ahead of him. Rotator cuff surgery is extremely difficult to come all the way back from and Kimball, a max-effort kind of pitcher, certainly knows that. 

Either way, he took his first significant steps back toward the big leagues on Tuesday.

– Henry Rodriguez also began a rehab assignment on Tuesday, joining Triple-A Syracuse to begin getting work in now that his right index finger strain has cleared.