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Livan Hernandez makes his return to Nationals

At high noon on Friday, toward the end of the Washington Nationals' first full-squad workout, Livan Hernandez opened the gates to a small bullpen area, performed a few quick balance drills, and promptly took the mound for the first time in 147 days. Spring pitching instructor Spin Williams stood directly behind Hernandez, and General Manager Mike Rizzo watched from just beyond the bullpen fence. They observed a 35-year-old pitcher unbothered by his layoff from pitching, undeterred by the job competition facing him, and entirely at ease with his new (but familiar) surroundings.

"Always I wanted to come back," Hernandez said after doing just that. "I wait and wait and, so, you know, the times come. I sign. That's it. I'm here now."

On Wednesday Hernandez signed an incentive-heavy minor league deal with Washington, rejoining the franchise for which he's pitched twice before. On Friday, Hernandez awoke at 4 a.m. in Miami, drove to Viera, and reentered the clubhouse where his old uniform (No. 61) and old teammates awaited. Though Hernandez didn't pitch off a mound even once during the offseason, he sounded secure about his ability to recover his form.

"In a couple more days," Hernandez said, "I'll be 100-percent."

Hernandez is a latecomer to the Nationals' competition for starting rotation spots -- they need to fill at least two openings on the staff -- but he's hardly a longshot. Even with a fastball in the mid-80s, even with a 2009 ERA of 5.44, Hernandez possesses a durability and experienced unmatched by the other, younger starters jockeying for jobs.

"Livo brings us an experienced guy that we know can eat up innings," Rizzo said. "You know exactly what you're getting with this acquisition. He's a good inventory guy for us. He's a veteran guy. We know what type of pitcher he's going to be. We know him in the clubhouse. So we're really comfortable with that, and he gives us some security."

Back at his locker after his first workout, Hernandez said he never worried during the offseason about not finding a job. And he's not worried now about fighting for a roster spot.

"I'm happy [I signed] here," Hernandez said. "So I'm here, back to Washington, and it's going to be really nice... I'll go do my best, and I know I have a chance to win a lot of games this year and help the team."

By Chico Harlan  |  February 26, 2010; 2:15 PM ET
 
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Comments


Chico -- first off, thanks for the past couple of years. I've enjoyed your writing. Good luck in the Far East.

Next, even though this is your last day, could you please let Kilgore know that if he refers to Livan's age as you did here:

"They observed a 35-year-old pitcher"

that 35 must be written as "35".

Thanks.

Posted by: erocks33 | February 26, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Shhhh, don't tell CiL.

Posted by: BobLHead | February 26, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Now, this is the guy that'll lead the Natinals to the promised-land.

And by promised-land I mean last place in the NL East with probably the worst record in all of MLB.

Posted by: Poopy_McPoop | February 26, 2010 2:32 PM | Report abuse

"And by promised-land I mean last place in the NL East with probably the worst record in all of MLB."

Right along with Ballimer's St. Louis Browns ... and as everyone knows ... Poopy is brown.

Posted by: periculum | February 26, 2010 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Sorry for a team supposedly looking ahead, this was a REALLY REALLY LAME SIGN. Not to mention CHEAP.
Last thing we need to see is old Livon back on the bump.
This reeks.

Go out and sign a REAL FREAKIN PITCHER!!

Posted by: dovelevine | February 26, 2010 2:37 PM | Report abuse

ANA - great airline Chico ...

Posted by: periculum | February 26, 2010 2:37 PM | Report abuse

@dovelevine,

If you read Boz's article you might have seen that pitcher was Aroldis Chapman. They aren't going to sign anyone over 30 to the big bucks preferring to take risks only with inexperienced, but talented prospects. They apparently did attempt a couple of trades ... probably dangling Willingham.

If by some miracle Mock, Chico, Wang, and Olsen perform well we may well see some sort of trade happen. But I wouldn't count on it.

Boz put enough of the onus on ownership to cause Stan K seek him out to protest. There isn't much more anyone can do at this point?

Posted by: periculum | February 26, 2010 2:44 PM | Report abuse

If they hadn't signed Livo, who would we get to complain about and use as an example of cheapness? Kennedy, I guess, right?

And from what I remember from National Pastime, any post-game spread that is being enjoyed by Livan Hernandez isn't cheap...

Posted by: Section506 | February 26, 2010 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Chico: How did Livo look like, weight-wise? (Feel free to ask Boz for a second opinion)

Posted by: Juan-John1 | February 26, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse

"IF" the defense is improved, Livo will have improved numbers. As ya'll know he pitches to contact.

Posted by: cokedispatch | February 26, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

>>Boz put enough of the onus on ownership to cause Stan K seek him out to protest. Posted by: periculum


Please explain.

Posted by: dovelevine | February 26, 2010 4:20 PM | Report abuse

One thing you can say about Hernandez is that every time he takes the mound you've got at least a 50% shot at winning. That's a LOT more than any other Nats starter.

Posted by: bundy44 | February 26, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

* would also be acceptable

(but I still love you, Livo)

:-)

---

that 35 must be written as "35".

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | February 26, 2010 4:40 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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