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Livo at home in Viera, with Nats

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.”

Read my full story about Livo on CSNwashington.com.

  1. MM - Feb 16, 2011 at 10:44 PM

    250lbs?

  2. Traveler8 - Feb 16, 2011 at 10:53 PM

    I thought Bernie looked fantastic, what a hunk, really hot. Seeing the picture of Livo makes you realize that a lot of exercise does have an effect, and looking that ripped does not necessarily come from steroids.

  3. Theophilus - Feb 17, 2011 at 12:17 AM

    For some reason, nobody ever worried about whether David Wells was overweight — until his arm went dead. With Livo, everything is about his motion, and rhythm. His shoulder probably does less work than the shoulders of any other pitcher in the league. (Imagine all those years w/ no major arm injury.) The shoulder just needs to be in the right slot (any of several different angles, depending on Livan's purpose) every time. That's why the knee is critical. If he can push off, the slot will be right, the pitch will be somewhere the hitter has to reach for it, and Livo will have the advantage. People on this list have been saying his performance fell off the end of last year. He was off in August — when arms go dead, lots of younger players are hitting the wall, too — but his performance in September was nearly as good as it was at the beginning of the season.Cross your fingers against injury but otherwise book him for around 11-12 wins.

  4. JaneB - Feb 17, 2011 at 12:23 AM

    I just love him. Thanks for this!

  5. Anonymous - Feb 17, 2011 at 1:08 AM

    Not so pumped about another Livo Opening Day start — it is a real sign of the club's biggest failure. Job One was to land some front line pitching, they got none. The club is much improved, but Livo is not an Ace, he's nothing close to an Ace at this point. Glad to have him, I see his value, I think he'll pitch well, but he is not a Number 1 starter in the bigs.Rizzo still has some time to land something shinier, and he has loads of cash laying around to take on a bad contract. If the Nats can get someone to unseat Livo as the Opening Day guy, then the club has a chance, if not, the Nats are DOA in the NL East.

  6. Anonymous - Feb 17, 2011 at 1:12 AM

    Who has the other big locker? Zim?

  7. Anonymous - Feb 17, 2011 at 1:14 AM

    I think it's safe to say Rizzo won't find an opening day quality starter between now and March 31.

  8. Mark Zuckerman - Feb 17, 2011 at 1:15 AM

    There are 2 big lockers on the pitcher's side of the clubhouse. Livan and Marquis have those.Then there are 8 big lockers on the hitter's side of the room. Those, if I remember correctly, go to: Zimmerman, Werth, LaRoche, Pudge, Desmond, Morgan, Hairston and Ankiel.

  9. Theophilus - Feb 17, 2011 at 1:41 AM

    There will be a vacancy on the hitters' side soon. (He said, hopefully.) Shall we have a pool on who gets it?

  10. Knoxville Nat - Feb 17, 2011 at 2:18 AM

    Mark,Who determines "ownership" of a big locker on the hitter's side of the room?

  11. Mark Zuckerman - Feb 17, 2011 at 2:51 AM

    Mike Wallace, the clubhouse manager, decides all locker locations. Generally, the bigger ones go to the veterans and guys making more money. But sometimes there are special requests from a couple of players who want to be side-by-side.

  12. Les in NC - Feb 17, 2011 at 3:50 AM

    speaking of lockers, where is Harper? Or rather, who are his lockermates?

  13. NatsJack in Florida - Feb 17, 2011 at 10:48 AM

    Theophilus…..the only concern about Livo's weight is the effect it has on his knees. Last year was the first in a long time that he did not complain about the pain in his knees and that could be directly related to his playing weight last season.

  14. Mark Zuckerman - Feb 17, 2011 at 1:41 PM

    If anyone has been having trouble this morning posting comments, my apologies. There appear to have been some technical glitches. But I think they've been worked out now.

  15. NatsJack in Florida - Feb 17, 2011 at 1:51 PM

    It's fixed. Thanks, Mark

  16. Anonymous - Feb 17, 2011 at 2:11 PM

    Mark – Great piece on Livo, he is a treasure!

  17. Anonymous - Feb 17, 2011 at 2:37 PM

    Mark: How does Desmond rate a large locker? Is it by draft year because that is the only way he has as much seniority as Hairston and Ankiel. Otherwise, he does not deserve such a locker!

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
x-WASHINGTON 90 64 --
ATLANTA 76 78 14.0
NEW YORK 75 80 15.5
MIAMI 74 80 16.0
PHILADELPHIA 71 84 19.5
x-Clinched NL East title
Through Saturday's games

NL PLAYOFFS STANDINGS

W L GB WCGB
x-WASHINGTON (5) 90 64 --
y-LOS ANGELES 88 67 2.5
ST. LOUIS 87 68 3.5
-------------------------
SAN FRANCISCO 84 70 6.0 +1.0
PITTSBURGH 83 71 7.0 --
MILWAUKEE 80 75 10.5 3.5
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