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Report: Livo signs with Astros

Jan 31, 2012, 10:45 PM EDT

US Presswire photo
Livan Hernandez tips his cap to the crowd following his last start in Washington.

Whatever slim chance there was of Livan Hernandez returning to the Nationals for another season appears to have vanished. The veteran right-hander has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Astros, according to FoxSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal.

Hernandez has started and won more games than any other pitcher in the Nationals’ brief history, posting a combined 4.32 ERA over two stints (2005-06, 2009-11). He started the Nats’ first-ever game at Philadelphia in 2005, the home opener at RFK Stadium one week later and the season openers in both 2006 and 2011 and remained a fan favorite through it all.

But an influx of young pitching has left the Nationals with six strong candidates for five spots in this year’s Opening Day rotation, and despite affection for the 36-year-old hurler, the club had no reason to engage in serious contract talks this winter.

Though he agreed to a minor-league deal, Hernandez should have a shot at cracking the Astros’ Opening Day rotation. Coming off a 106-loss season, Houston is seeking a No. 5 starter this spring. Candidates include left-handers J.A. Happ and Zach Duke (who just signed a minor-league contract this week).

  1. whatsanattau - Jan 31, 2012 at 10:52 PM

    Good for Livo!!!Good for the Astros.Best of Luck!!!

  2. Doc - Jan 31, 2012 at 11:02 PM

    Livo lives on…….and on!

  3. natsfan1a - Jan 31, 2012 at 11:09 PM

    Good for you, Livo! Go get 'em.

  4. natscan reduxit - Jan 31, 2012 at 11:09 PM

    … when I saw this news an hour or so ago, I thought long and hard about how I felt. I have always loved Livo from the time he wore a curly M to the days of his curly W. It's hard to see him go. But these Nats of 2012 are on their way to higher ground, and although I know Livan can still do the job, can still pull his weight, I'm thrilled to see how things are going to play out for the Nats this year with a much improved staff…. in the end, I searched for an adjective to describe how I feel about him, his career and specifically about this move, and it's simply this: I feel … wistful.Go Livo!Go Nats!!

  5. ehay2k - Jan 31, 2012 at 11:11 PM

    I'm happy Livo got a deal, but sad to see him go. He is, and may always be, my favorite Nat. No pitcher has made more amazing fielding plays than Livo. And when he comes to the plate, you know it is not time to go get food or drink – something magical is likely to take place. Can you honestly say that about any other MLB pitcher?Thank you Livo for all you brought to an otherwise moribund franchise. Best of luck in Houston. (Not looking at a schedule, do we play them this year at home?)

  6. natsfan1a - Jan 31, 2012 at 11:19 PM

    Just looked at the schedule, and Astros will be here April 16-19 (all weeknights).As most of y'all know, I'm also squarely in the "loving Livo" camp. I didn't expect him to be back, and I think I've already said my goodbye (and, okay, shed a few tears, too, when he walked off the mound for we suspected would be the last time as a Nat last season). I'll add my thanks to him for twirling a complete game shutout one day when I'd bought tickets on a whim. It instantly made the list of my fave in-person games. I'll always have a soft spot for the big lug, no matter what. Yeah, wistful is just about right, Natscan.

  7. NG - Jan 31, 2012 at 11:20 PM

    Yes, April 16, 17, 18, and 19. So if he makes the rotation out of Spring Training he'll almost certainly pitch here.

  8. ehay2k - Jan 31, 2012 at 11:29 PM

    Natscan, perfect word, wistful. Thanks natsfan1a, I will definitely buy tix to see the Astros if Livo is pitching.

  9. Cwj - Jan 31, 2012 at 11:30 PM

    Best of luck to Livo.I was hoping he'd retire as a Nat, but there's just no longer any room for him on the staff.He's in my personal Nats Hall of Fame.Go Livo! Thanks for the memories!

  10. Just sayin' - Jan 31, 2012 at 11:30 PM

    In nine career starts at Minute Maid, Livo has a 6-2 record and a 3.98 ERA, and he's thrown one complete game. It's a small sample size, but let's hope he keeps that up (except against the Nats, of course).

  11. waddu eye no - Jan 31, 2012 at 11:46 PM

    hmmm.which opposing player will get the most applause at nats park this year?maybe an astros pitcher?best to you livo.

  12. JaneB - Jan 31, 2012 at 11:49 PM

    I'm glad he has somewhere to report next month. I'll have my sign ready to welcome him back!Has Pudge landed anywhere yet?

  13. Sunderland - Jan 31, 2012 at 11:53 PM

    I'm betting Livo and the Astros are looking at a 2 year deal. Year 1 as an SP. Year 2 as the DH for the new-look AL West Astros. Go Livo.

  14. JaneB - Jan 31, 2012 at 11:53 PM

    Just saying', thanks for those stats about Livo in Minute Maid park. He is my favorite Nat, and my favorite player, of all time. I love his wiliness, his joy and love of the game, his bunting, the way he stands at the plate like he's catching a bus and then he hurts you with the bat anyway. That he made LannEn go practice hitting. That he was the first guy on the rail at every game. That he trash talks his way down the first base line when he hits the perfect bunt. The Astros are lucky to have him.

  15. BIGNAT33 - Jan 31, 2012 at 11:54 PM

    Sad to see him go too. It was evident that we had no room for him here, with such a solid pitching staff shaping up. Good luck, Livo, except when you face the Nats!

  16. MicheleS - Feb 1, 2012 at 12:28 AM

    I am going to miss him.. I remember that play towards the end of the year when he got called up for pinch hit/bunt duty. Everyone in the park new what was going to happen, even the other team, and he laid down the perfect sac bunt and was laughing the whole way down the base path.I am glad he has a new home. I am going to miss him and the joy that he had when he played the game.

  17. HHover - Feb 1, 2012 at 12:44 AM

    My favorite Livo story:I took my son to the ballpark early a few years ago for batting practice. This was a weeknight game, during the dog days of August. Livo had pitched the night before and was out in the outfield shagging fly balls (he actually ran for one). He didn't catch many, but he was laughing, chatting up the other players and the fans, and clearly having the best time of anyone on the field.Best of luck to the big guy.

  18. Positively Half St. - Feb 1, 2012 at 12:55 AM

    natscan- Wistful is perfect.I love Livo, too, but he is no more 36 than I am (48 next week- I still am older than he).I like the idea of going to see him against us in April, rooting for him, but not for the Astros to prevail in the end.+1/2St.

  19. Ztown17 - Feb 1, 2012 at 12:55 AM

    minor league contract? the dude is one of the most durable pitchers in the bigleagues, i hope he pitches in the bigs. can't imagine a world series mvp and someone who has harnassed his craft as well as livo pitching in the minors

  20. NatsLady - Feb 1, 2012 at 12:56 AM

    Funny and fun guy–and a fine pitcher when he wanted to be. I remember in Cincinnati (I believe), he was called on to bunt and he was tying his shoes on the field because he was in the back somewhere (shoeless?)… Missed a couple, and then laid down a perfect bunt! Yes, there should be a nice ovation if he's here in April.

  21. NatsLady - Feb 1, 2012 at 12:57 AM

    Oh, and I have his autograph on a jersey with his number. He was so nice on the day he was signing.

  22. Tim - Feb 1, 2012 at 1:05 AM

    I wish Livo well. We loved him for his personality and flair, but also because he pitched best for us during his career: 3.98 ERA for us during his seasons here.Mark, doesn't he still have legal issues pending?

  23. Dave - Feb 1, 2012 at 1:06 AM

    There are a lot of fireball throwers in MLB. Livo is a pitcher. He messes up hitters' minds with his sleight-of-hand. As sharp a baseball guy as there could be.(Sunderland, I love your prediction. I remember many a game when many of our managers put him in as a pinch-hitter, and not just to bunt.)Congrats to him. I hope we get a chance to cheer him during the Astros series.

  24. LoveDaNats - Feb 1, 2012 at 1:11 AM

    Best wishes to Livo. A genuine class act. I will miss his gum-chewing nonchalance.

  25. Friend of all the World - Feb 1, 2012 at 1:14 AM

    I am so there if he gets a start in DC. Wish he could see this thread to know how loved he was.

  26. greg - Feb 1, 2012 at 1:28 AM

    happy for livo, and i'll miss him too. i think his second go round with the team he seemed a lot less tense (the end of his first run was… odd). but, as +1/2St. said, he's no more 36 than i am, either (and, eerily, we're the same age, +1/2St.).

  27. RickH - Feb 1, 2012 at 3:01 AM

    Good luck, Livo!

  28. Mick - Feb 1, 2012 at 3:15 AM

    Will always love this guy and i wish him well. I'll take old school anytime

  29. Mick - Feb 1, 2012 at 3:17 AM

    Livo should run clinics on how to bunt

  30. Al M - Feb 1, 2012 at 3:20 AM

    Best wishes to Livo!He always brought a smile to my face.Lots of great memories. Besides opening day in 05, my favorite is a game in 06, I think. Livo struck out with a weak swing – very Uncharacteristic. When he got back to the dugout he flipped the bat over the roof to a fan. He homered in his next at bat. Then there was the game where Frank took him out in the 7th, I think. He was so hot he tossed his hat over the dugout, then came out and tossed his jacket and glove. An usher spent a long time talking to the guy to try to get the glove but he refused. There was a report that the guy wanted $10,000 and season tickets. Livo said that for that price he could keep it becaus ehe had other gloves. I will miss Livo!

  31. lls45 - Feb 1, 2012 at 3:50 AM

    I wish Livan all the best with the Astros. I always loved watching him pitch (in that slow way of his!),especially when Pudge was catching.

  32. Anonymous - Feb 1, 2012 at 4:17 AM

    Nationals manager Davey Johnson wants Bryce Harper to start the season as Washington's right fielder, hears Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. That seems like an aggressive approach to me, but it would create quite a bit of buzz in Washington — and in baseball, in general.Ho hum, looks like Mark et al are about to be wrong again …

  33. Anonymous - Feb 1, 2012 at 4:24 AM

    Livo was a master in 2010 but in 2011?He was the second worst starter and pitcher after John Lannan. The difference between Lannan and Livo. Lannan is consistently bad Livo still has good years to match against the bad.Defense and park neutral stats tell the true story not the ERA's.John Lannan 182.3 xIP, 5.04 tRA, -15.1 pRAALivan Hernandez 172.9 xIP, 4.94 tRA, -12.5 pRAAChien-Ming Wang 60.4 xIP, 5.51 tRA, -8.2 pRAAThe important stat is the pRAA (pitching runs above average) the larger the value the better.Sure hope they manage to sign Oswalt. With Oswalt they would have a better chance of making something happen this year. But without the Fielder signing its likely Oswalt will be going elsewhere.

  34. Anonymous - Feb 1, 2012 at 4:26 AM

    And SteveM? You had been better damned well believe that D. Johnson looks at these stats … the moves sure indicate they do indeed do!

  35. SonnyG10 - Feb 1, 2012 at 4:38 AM

    I also wish Livan all the best and hope he makes the starting rotation with the Astros.My favorite memory of Livan is during last season's spring training when my wife, my dog Sophie, who is a Belgian Malinois, and myself went to watch the Nats practice. My wife is standing near the pathway from the locker room to the fields with Sophie when Livo walks by and starts to chat with my wife. It turns out that he has three Malinois of his own. That was quite a thrill for my wife and myself, and I'll never forget it.

  36. NatsNut - Feb 1, 2012 at 4:39 AM

    I remember Livan once ambling off the mound to get a bunted ball like he was out getting the Sunday paper from the driveway. I laughed the whole rest of the game and watched the highlight again about 10 times when I got home. And my Braves fan brother couldn't stand Livo because his team could never hit him. I remember him texting me, all exasperated, "I HATE Livan Hernandez. He pitches like he's playing catch in the back yard with his son and WE CAN'T HIT HIM." I'm a little sad it had to end.

  37. John C. - Feb 1, 2012 at 5:43 AM

    For the anon who ranks on Lannan using pRAA, or anyone really: how is pRAA calculated? I mean, specifically? Before I accept the validity of some number that an anonymous schmoe on the internet is citing, I'd kinda like to verify them. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

  38. Another_Sam - Feb 1, 2012 at 10:49 AM

    Did I mention I'm in the Livan camp as well? [LOL]Yes on the April series. And for spring training he'll be easy to see in Kissemmee. [SP?]Regarding geek stats and Livan vs. Lannan: Say it's August after a long day in the office. You get home and check the paper. Who do you want to see starting — Livan on Lannan? Post that stat.The thing I remember is that before games, both spring and regular season, he always has a group of players around him trying to catch the vibe.

  39. Unkyd - Feb 1, 2012 at 12:45 PM

    11:17 said:Ho hum, looks like Mark et al are about to be wrong again …————————Yep. Jon Heyman: Defacto GM/Manager. And The Gospel, according to Anon. So let it be written…….

  40. Anonymous - Feb 1, 2012 at 2:02 PM

    I guess it had to end but Livo is my favorite Nat / Expo of all time. My favorite play was on a hot grounder just off the mound…Livo made a great reflex snag and was carrying the ball to the dugout away from first with his head down, chewing gum while the batter was just leaving the box. He half turned while walking away and tossed the ball across the diamond for the put out. The guy had style. I'll sure miss him.

  41. Jeff L - Feb 1, 2012 at 2:15 PM

    I'm sorry to see Livo move on. He always struck me as the kind of guy who you'd love to have a beer with at the end of the game (or a plate of nachos, some chicken wings, a slide of cake…).Best of luck! I'll still keep my autographed picture of you on my Nats memorabilia shelf!

  42. Avar - Feb 1, 2012 at 2:45 PM

    Of course sad to Livo go but a great sign of progress to have 12+ pitchers who are better than him. Would love to be there his first game back in April to join the ovation for him. Such a great guy.

  43. Dawn - Feb 1, 2012 at 3:31 PM

    Long Live Livo….a cool customer on the mound, made it all look so easy. Loved watching when he and Pudge were the battery the last couple of years, made the opposing batters look like they were swinging in mud most of the time. Hope he makes the club and the Astros fans appreciate him. Nats fans always will.

  44. RPrecupjr - Feb 1, 2012 at 3:33 PM

    Stay tuned for the end of May series at Coors Field. The possiblity of a 5-hour nine inning game looms…..Livo vs. Jamie MoyerBoth signed to minor league deals with ST invites, both are lucky to hit 85 on the gun, and both are over 40, no matter what Livo's people say. I, for one, would LOVE to see this matchup, if for no other reason than to see two guys who defy the odds battle each other.

  45. Link Appleyard - Feb 1, 2012 at 7:57 PM

    First Brian Bixler. And now Livan Hernandez. They're building a powerhouse down on the Golf Coast.

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