Livan Hernandez wants to stay a National
Livan Hernandez, signed to a minor league contract late this spring, has become the Nationals' most invaluable pitcher. He leads the team in innings, has taken the ball for every scheduled start and, while posting a 3.12 ERA, has taken on a mentoring role with the callow starting rotation.
Hernandez, certainly, has proved he can still be an asset to a major league team. But because the Nationals' future includes a rotation potentially crowded with young pitchers, Hernandez's place with the Nationals next season remains uncertain.
Speaking Saturday afternoon, Hernandez affirmed he wants be back next season and eventually retire as a National.
"That's what I think," Hernandez said. "To come back again next year, I would be really happy with something like that. This is something special, this year with the Nationals. It's a great organization. It's very classy and professional. I'm really happy to be here."
By committing with the Nationals early in the offseason, Hernandez, 35, could avoid having to sign a minor league deal in late winter, as he did before this spring training.
"I'm not thinking about that," Hernandez said. "I want to have a good year and finish, help the team win more games. This is what I'm thinking right now. That's all that's on my mind. But definitely, I want to stay here."
If the Nationals want to bring Hernandez back, they will have to fit him into a rotation that could potentially include any of the following: Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Craig Stammen, Jason Marquis, Scott Olsen, Chien-Ming Wang and Ross Detwiler, among others.
Hernandez has said he wants to pitch four more seasons, and his renaissance this year helps his case. Hernandez ranks 13th in the National League in innings (133 2/3) and 12th in ERA.
Hernandez, the man who threw the first pitch in Nationals history, would like to remain with the franchise through his playing days and beyond.
"I wish," Hernandez said. "It would be really nice. When I retire, I'm thinking about working in baseball. I don't know what kind of job, but I think I can do something good for baseball. If they give me a chance, why not?
Hernandez is motivated to stay in baseball because of his experience as a rookie with the Florida Marlins, when veterans taught him the game and how to handle its trappings. Hernandez, as he's done this year with his younger teammates, wants to continue to pass along what he knows.
"Baseball is not about one year," Hernandez said. "It's not easy. I'm the kind of guy that throws every five days for 13 years, and throw a lot of innings. Teach people that, and also how you go out and be professional, how you be a teammate. And the most important: Enjoy it. Enjoy baseball."
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