Feb 16, 2011, 10:34 PM EDT
Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Livan Hernandez plays catch on his first day at Nats camp this spring.
VIERA, Fla. — Livan Hernandez has the kind of presence that allows him to walk into any big-league clubhouse and immediately feel right at home, but there may be no clubhouse in the sport that feels more like home to the veteran right-hander than the home digs at Space Coast Stadium.
Hernandez has been coming here for so long, he vividly remembers the facility’s early days in the mid-1990s when nothing but cow pastures surrounded the ballpark. The smell wafting over the right-field fence is permanently embedded in his mind.
This is, amazingly, Hernandez’s 10th spring training in Viera. The first four came as a member of the Marlins, the original tenants of the facility on the state’s east coast (1996-99). Then four more during his first stint with the Expos/Nationals (2003-06). And now he’s back for the second camp of his second stint with the Nats, still occupying one of the two extra-large lockers reserved for the team’s senior starting pitchers.
Come March 31, Hernandez will find himself in familiar territory as well: Standing on the mound delivering the first pitch of the season for the ninth time in his career, an assignment he relishes.
“It means a lot,” he said. “I don’t know how many times I’ve been doing it, maybe eight or nine? It’s nice to pitch on the first day of the season, and I enjoy it. I’ll try to win.”
NL EAST STANDINGS
MON: Nats at Rockies, 8:40 p.m.
TUE: Nats at Rockies, 8:40 p.m.
WED: Nats at Rockies, 3:10 p.m.
FRI: Nats at Reds, 7:10 p.m.
SAT: Nats at Reds, 4:05 p.m.
SUN: Nats at Reds, 1:10 p.m.
Full season schedule
ON THE RADIO
As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...
MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.
*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.
Follow us on Twitter
- Ian Desmond notches five hits, Nats rock Colorado
- Harper sits, Zimmerman in left as Nats face Rockies
- NL East: Lee and Cishek drawing interest on trade market
- Dan Uggla signs with the San Francisco Giants
- Nats fan sports 'Curly W' beard (PHOTO)
- State of the Nats: 9-game road trip begins Monday
- Resurgent Zimmerman leads Nats' potent lineup
- Werth, Rendon, scouting come together in Nats win
- Instant analysis: Nats 5, Brewers 4
- Nationals try to overcome pinch-hitting woes