Livan talking to Nats about role with club
Veteran hurler fondly recalls time spent in DC, hopes to return in some capacity
WASHINGTON -- One could imagine Livan Hernandez's reaction after he was invited to NatsFest. He was ecstatic.
Hernandez reiterated Friday how much he loved playing baseball in the nation's capital, and he gave high praise to the Nationals and their ownership group.
"I'm coming to a great city of baseball," Hernandez said over the phone on Friday. "They have the best owners in baseball, and probably the best man in baseball -- [general manager] Mike Rizzo."
Hernandez is hoping to do more than just make an appearance Saturday at NatsFest. He would like to work for the Nats in some capacity. The right-hander's playing days are over, but he would like to help the pitchers in the organization. At the end of NatsFest, Hernandez went so far as to say that he was 99 percent sure that he would work for Washington. He even joked that he is willing to throw batting practice.
"I don't know. ... We'll talk about that and see what's going on," Hernandez said about his possible future in baseball. "I'll see what the plans are. Let's see what happens. I'd love to come back over here. It would be great."
Rizzo confirmed that the Nationals are looking to hire Hernandez in some capacity.
"[Hernandez] brings a lot to the table," Rizzo said. "First of all, he is loved by everybody -- ownership, front office, the general manager loves him, all the players love him, and he has a wealth of knowledge that he can impart on a young pitching staff.
"I like having him around. His attitude is infectious, his knowledge is great. If the pitchers are smart, they will hang around Livo enough and get some finer points to be a Major League pitcher."
Hernandez, 38, is arguably the most popular pitcher in Nationals history. He was a workhorse during his time with the Expos/Nats. He was often among the league leaders in innings pitched and was considered the leader of the pitching staff. Hernandez also has the distinction of throwing the first pitch in Nationals history and making an All-Star appearance with the club in 2005.
The Nats dealt Hernandez to the D-backs before the non-waiver Trade Deadline the following season, but he returned to Washington in August 2009. The righty's last big league season was in 2012, when he spent time with the Braves and Brewers.
What did Hernandez do during his free time last year?
"When you retire, you have to do something, have a business so you will not get bored at home," Hernandez said. "I played golf, took care of business. I never got bored at home. I'm always doing something."
Hernandez also knows what's going on with the 2014 Nationals. He believes they have the pieces in place to win the National League East. The key, according to Hernandez, is to stay healthy.
"They have a great bullpen," Hernandez said. "They traded for [Doug] Fister. He is a ground-ball pitcher. They have a great pitching staff. They have great hitters. I think the team is complete. They have to stay healthy and play well, [starting with] the beginning [of the season]."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.