Nine years after throwing the first pitch in Washington Nationals history, Livan Hernandez could be rejoining the team in a coaching capacity.
Hernandez, who last pitched for the Nationals in 2011, said at NatsFest on Saturday that he is ’99 percent’ certain that he will be rejoining the team as a coach this spring.
“It’s something nice,” Hernandez told the Washington Post. “We talk a little bit the other day on the phone. I’m very excited. Always, I want to do something in this place. I think it’s the best place, here in D.C. Just to try to do some work. I’d love to try to do that.”
Hernandez, 38, is considered by many as one of the players who helped lay the foundation for the franchise.
The soft throwing right-hander played with the Nationals/Expos organization from 2003-2006, and again from 2009-2011. Hernandez served as the team’s ace on several occasions, including the team’s inaugural season in 2005, in which he finished 15-10 and was selected to the All-Star Game.
Although Hernandez was never known for overpowering hitters (his fastball rarely exceeded 85 mph), he still knew how to get guys out based purely on location and execution. General manager Mike Rizzo is confident that Hernandez would make an excellent mentor for some of the young Nationals’ pitchers during Spring Training, and is looking forward to bringing him onboard.
“He’s one of the few guys we can call legends of the Washington Nationals,” Rizzo told the Washington Post at NatsFest. “Again, he brings a lot to the table. First of all, he’s loved by everybody. Ownership, front office, the general manager loves him, all the players love him. And he’s got a wealth of knowledge for our pitching staff. And, I just like having him around. His attitude is infectious. His knowledge is great.”
Hernandez was without a doubt one of the most important players for the Nationals in the first few years after the team moved from Montreal to Washington, and it would be great to see him back in a Nationals uniform this spring. The Nationals have many young players who could benefit from Hernandez and learn about pitching in its purest (and slowest) form.
Just one year removed from throwing his last pitch in the big leagues, Hernandez is looking forward to returning to the game and helping out the franchise that he helped create back in 2005.
“I love the game,” Hernandez said. “This is the best game in the world.”