A familiar face was back in the Nationals‘ clubhouse before Wednesday’s game for the second time in a week. Last week in Miami, Livan Hernandez also appeared in the Nationals clubhouse, donned team gear and spent batting practice talking with pitchers in the outfield and working with players.
Hernandez, perhaps the most recognizable former Nationals player, spent spring training with the team in Viera as a coach but his regular season role was undefined. On Wednesday, General Manager Mike Rizzo provided clarity: “He’s kinda an ambassador/confidant/coach/jack of all trades.”
Rizzo said the affable Hernandez, 39, will also have a role as a face of the team at public events. He will be in and out of town every so often and also help coaches and players out on the field.
“He’s fun for me to have around,” Rizzo said. “He’s an engaging personality, he’s a fun-loving guy, he keeps things loose. But there’s a serious side that actually helps the players. If it’s not talking to young pitchers about pitching, it’s throwing to some of the guys kind of a live batting practice type of thing. He has a role besides just being a nice guy.”
Hernandez, who officially retired in spring training, spent seven seasons with the Nationals and has the most wins as a starting pitcher in team history at 44. Hernandez, a native of Cuba, spent 17 years in the majors. Rizzo said in spring training that Hernandez is “one of the few guys we can call legends.”