Smoltz not out of a job long

John Smoltz agreed to a deal with the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday, giving the 42-year-old former ace a chance to rejuvenate his career in the middle of a pennant race.

Smoltz joined the NL Central leaders shortly after he cleared waivers, following his release by Boston. He was 2-5 with an 8.33 ERA in eight starts for the Red Sox.

General manager John Mozeliak said Smoltz would likely start Sunday at San Diego, and would probably get at least a few turns in the rotation.

“From everything he had heard about this club, he was excited to take this opportunity,” Mozeliak said.

The Cardinals hope Smoltz can either fill a void as the fifth starter or provide right-handed relief in the bullpen. Detroit, the Los Angeles Dodgers, Texas and Florida also were said to be interested in signing the longtime Atlanta star.

Boston is responsible for the bulk of Smoltz’s contract. St. Louis is on the hook only for a prorated share of the major league minimum, about $100,000 through the rest of the season.

Padilla joins Dodgers

Dodgers manager Joe Torre said Wednesday the club has signed free agent pitcher Vicente Padilla, two days after the right-hander was released by Texas.

Torre said Padilla, 8-6 with a 4.92 ERA in 18 games with the Rangers, will pitch Saturday at Triple-A Albuquerque before joining the Dodgers and will make his first scheduled start for his new team on Aug. 27 at Colorado.

The Rangers put Padilla on unconditional waivers Monday after being designated for assignment on Aug. 7. He cleared waivers and became a free agent on Wednesday.

The Dodgers will owe Padilla a prorated portion of the minimum salary for the rest of the season, which comes to about $100,000. The Rangers must pay the remainder of Padilla’s $12 million salary this season.

Short hops

The Dodgers have placed right-hander Hiroki Kuroda on the disabled list while he recovers from post-concussion symptoms after being hit in the head by a line drive at Arizona on Saturday. … The Cincinnati Reds placed center fielder Willy Taveras on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right quadriceps. … The Cleveland Indians placed outfielder Trevor Crowe on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right oblique and recalled first baseman-outfielder Matt LaPorta from Triple-A Columbus.