SAN DIEGO -- Chad Gaudin, who was released last Sunday by the Chicago Cubs, said he had as many as 11 teams courting him, but decided that the San Diego Padres gave him the best opportunity of continuing his Major League career as a starting pitcher.

Gaudin, a 26-year-old right-hander, signed a Minor League contract with the Padres late Saturday night and was pitching a side session in the bullpen Sunday at PETCO Park on his way to assignment to Triple-A Portland.

"Chad has come through here to throw a side session and we wanted to introduce ourselves to him and he wanted to introduce himself to us," said Padres manager Bud Black. "He threw on the side; he's going to move to Portland sometime in the next couple of days. And I believe he's scheduled to pitch Saturday in Sacramento."

Gaudin will start for the Portland Beavers.

"K.T. [Padres GM Kevin Towers] signed him as a starter," said Black. "He wants to start; that's what he wants to do. We view him as a starter."

As for the side session, "he threw the ball well," said Black. "Right before the season opener, he threw at Yankee Stadium for the Cubs, so he's not that far from the mound. Today he showed a live fastball and a good hard slider."

Gaudin, who was obtained last July from Oakland in the Rich Harden deal, finished the spring with a 2-1 record and a 10.26 ERA. He was 9-5 with a 4.40 ERA in 50 games last season with the A's and Cubs.

"I feel that I'm as good as I can be as a starter," said Gaudin as he met the media. "Naturally I feel that I can succeed the most in that [spot] and that's what I'm most comfortable with. That's what I'm into and that's the way I'm going to proceed."

Gaudin said that "as many as 11 teams" had made inquiries.

The determining factor was the fact that he wanted to be a starter and not a reliever as most teams had targeted. The park also figured in Gaudin's decision.

"What I know is how comfortable I feel as a starter," said Gaudin. "And I know the more I pitch and the more I throw, the better I get.

"We've been talking since the release and it was just a matter of weighing all the options," said Gaudin. "I feel that San Diego is the best fit and I'm happy to be here. And hopefully I can get [back] up [to the Majors] and get down [in Portland] and stretch it out and helped out the club out anyway I can. I just want to get out there and see what the next day brings.

"Anytime you have a great ballpark to pitch in, it's an opportunity that I feel gives you the best option, not to mention the fan support, the great weather, great city," said Gaudin. "I'm excited to be here and excited to get it going."

Gaudin signed a one-year deal with the Cubs avoiding arbitration. The Cubs are obligated to pay Gaudin $1.6 million of his $2 million salary for the 2009 season.