Hitch In, Who's Next?

The San Diego Padres will officially announce the signing of Sterling Hitchcock after he passes a physical this week. They are also in the running for another right-handed pitcher. While Kevin Towers admitted he was in talks with another pitcher, he failed to mention the name of the player. A source in New Orleans tells us about an offer to a player, not named Greg Maddux, and another source tells us of a player who is not on the Padres radar at all.

While it is believed the San Diego Padres made a two year offer to Greg Maddux on Sunday night, it was unconfirmed and appears far from the truth. It was reported that the Padres are one of two teams to formally make an offer for the veteran righty with St. Louis being the other.

"Greg would mean so much to these young starters, just the way he competes and the way he approaches his job," Bruce Bochy, in New Orleans, did confirm of Maddux.

By not signing Mike Cameron, the Padres believe they have a better shot at Maddux.

The Padres have focused on their offense and bullpen since late last season when they added Brian Giles. Now they have settled the fifth spot in the rotation with the pending addition of Sterling Hitchcock.

Hitchcock, 32, went 5-1 down the stretch for St. Louis. For his career, he is 74-73 with a 4.77 ERA. He was 34-39 in his previous stint with the Padres, spanning five seasons.

Sources in New Orleans tell us that the Padres have extended a late offer to Sidney Ponson. The White Sox appeared to be the frontrunner with a three year deal at approximately $17 million that Ponson was on the verge of signing, but now the Padres and possibly the Orioles have joined the race.

Ponson went 17-12 for the O's and San Francisco Giants in 2003. Despite a 3-6 NL record with the Giants, he posted better WHIP, ERA and opponents batting average numbers.

Ponson is 27 years old, ten years younger than Maddux. That could be a factor with the Padres sudden interest in the right-hander.

A seperate source within the Padres organization confirmed to us tonight that the Padres have "no interest, none at all" in acquiring Jacque Jones. Jones, ironically, got married in San Diego on Saturday with Torii Hunter, Eddie Guardado, LaTroy Hawkins and Matt Lawton attending the wedding.

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Several reporters from New Orleans contributed to this report, including Dave Wesley and Luis Romero

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