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The (not so) old man can pitch

Mar 25, 2010, 3:08 AM EST

Photo by Rachel Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Livan Hernandez has shown enough this spring to earn a rotation spot.

TAMPA — Livan Hernandez celebrated his 35th birthday last month, and while there are certainly plenty of skeptics out there who will never believe it, the right-hander insists his age is accurate. He even offered reporters $1 million tonight if we could prove he's older than his official bio states.

The guy was laughing through the whole exchange, so I don't think he was serious about the offer. But he was serious about his age. He also believes he can pitch in the major leagues for quite a bit longer.

"A lot of years," he said. "Five more? I feel good. Jamie Moyer's 46. I'm 35 now."

If Hernandez can keep pitching the way he did tonight — holding the Yankees' "A" lineup to one run and three hits in five innings — he'll remain a valuable, major-league hurler for years to come. Sure, he's going to have rough nights along the way, usually once every five starts or so. But the other four times out, he's going to give his team a chance to win, a fact he's proven time and again throughout a career that began in earnest in 1997 with the Marlins.

"When you put him out there, you put him out there with confidence," manager Jim Riggleman said. "You don't put him out there thinking he's going to break down. Some guys, maximum-effort guys, youRead more »

  1. joNAThan - Mar 25, 2010 at 3:19 AM

    Good read Mark..this is the kind of stuff I like…thanks sir!

  2. Nervous Nats Fan - Mar 25, 2010 at 3:34 AM

    It's ok, you can admit it if you immediately went back to your computer and started looking up private investigators in Cuba. For $1 million, I would.

  3. Bas - Mar 25, 2010 at 3:57 AM

    What was his velocity in the past as opposed to 86mph?

  4. Anonymous - Mar 25, 2010 at 4:00 AM

    WTF? You claim it's his 35th birthday !?!Ha! Cuban birth records are as sketchy as Dom.Rep.'s "Smiley" birth records. If I was a betting man I'd bet the Livo dude is at least 45 years. Maybe more.And… what: God Bless him–long live the Old Man! He's been a great Nats team mate and a great baseball story. I'm so happy to be a Nats fan while he's still an active pitcher. He might never go to Cooperstown, but he's still an All-Time-Great!!!

  5. Anonymous - Mar 25, 2010 at 10:59 AM

    Is Livan the first "crafty righthander"?

  6. natsfan1a - Mar 25, 2010 at 11:02 AM

    Riiight, he's 35 (wink wink, nudge nudge, say no more, say no more). Seriously, though, another great piece. Love the racquetball angle. Like I said before, I can't help myself – I love the guy!

  7. Anonymous - Mar 25, 2010 at 11:31 AM

    Who gives two cents how old he is!? Who care what his waistline is!? How many people on this board can pitch better than Livan raise your hands!!!! Livan is more than just an innings eater he is a positive influence in the clubhouse. I would take 5 Livans over a lot of the guys who have found their way to the mound for the Nats since 2005.Great article Mark!!

  8. Jim Webster - Mar 25, 2010 at 12:00 PM

    On April 14, at 7:06 p.m., it will be time to remove whatever caps we may then be wearing (though the team be in Philly) to recognize the 5th anniversary of Livan's first start for the Nats — opening night at RFK and the return of baseball — when he pitched into the 9th and put the first curly "W" in the books. Not a trivial event for any baseball fan. He and Guz are the only ones left from that night. Great post, Mark.

  9. Anonymous - Mar 25, 2010 at 12:52 PM

    I love Livan. I thought he was a bit younger than 35. He only looks around 29 or 30. "Big slow curve from Livan…..swing and a miss, he got em!"

  10. alm1000 - Mar 25, 2010 at 1:20 PM

    Livo Livo Livo!Great read Mark.I also love the guy. Great memories from opening night in 05 and the whole first season. That big picture of him as you rounded the corner from the subway at RFK. Tossing his hat, etc. to the crowd when Frank took him out before the end of the game. Great stuff.15 wins for Livo and more than that for the Nats this year in games he pitches in.GO NATS!

  11. Steve M. - Mar 25, 2010 at 1:58 PM

    Can he do that consistently? Nice watch on MASN as I felt I was eating my words of earlier yesterday when I figured he was being written in the rotation based on reputation of a few years ago. His in-game interview on MASN was good as it gives you some hope that maybe he could win a bunch of games. Heck, the Nats deserve some lucky good breaks.That was impressive. BTW, do you think Fidel Castro would hand over to us his real birth records for a box of aged Cohibas? A $1 million payday right now sounds good!

  12. Steve M. - Mar 25, 2010 at 2:02 PM

    Mark – What was that pitch he was throwing to the lefties that looked like an inside pitch that then twisted back over the inside corner?I think it was Bob Carpenter who said it was a fastball with movement. Whatever it was, he had his mojo going last night!

  13. Doc - Mar 25, 2010 at 2:06 PM

    Another great bio-article MarkMeister! I see a collection of them turning into a sports book. Livo proves, what more pitching coaches are teaching–location is the more important variable in a pitcher's repetoire—pay attention Greg Olsen. Livo's got the other two variables down too.

  14. B.R. - Mar 25, 2010 at 2:08 PM

    I would say that he should lead a Nationals racquetball tournament, but I don't want all the other guys getting injured!

  15. Mark Zuckerman - Mar 25, 2010 at 2:35 PM

    Steve M.: I believe that pitch you're referring to is Livan's sinker, which against a left-handed hitter would start out inside and then dart back down and over the inside corner of the plate. Similar to the pitch Greg Maddux made famous.

  16. cadeck13 - Mar 25, 2010 at 2:41 PM

    Great read, love this kind of story! I really like Livo too, loved seeing him at RFK standing in the on deck circle talking to fans! Not only can he pitch and eat innings, but he fields really well and bats well too! I remember one game where Frank put him in the game as a pinch hitter and Livo was all smiles about it and if memory serves me correctly, I think he got a hit (could be wishful thinking on my part).Keep up the great work Mark and please know that the sentiment of Anonymous 9:44pm last night is not the sentiment of the rest of us! I agree with natsfan1a and I love this blog and what you give us.

  17. Doc - Mar 25, 2010 at 8:12 PM

    Mark, I was hoping to find out more about 'snake oil' and cigars, with Livo. Oh, I forgot, that was Luis Tiant! I guess times have changed. Still the way that ball goes out and down to lefthanders…….





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