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Livan Hernandez to spend September as coach/pinch-hitter

Arizona Diamondbacks v Washington Nationals

WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 24: Livan Hernandez #61 of the Washington Nationals pitches against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Nationals Park on August 24, 2011 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

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Preferring to look at the team’s younger pitchers down the stretch, the Nationals informed Livan Hernandez today that he’d be removed from the rotation following his start Sunday against the Mets.

According to MLB.com’s Bill Ladson, manager Davey Johnson indicated that Hernandez would become a mentor/coach the rest of the way. He won’t pitch out of the bullpen, but he will be available to serve as a pinch-hitter if needed.

The guess here is that Hernandez wasn’t keen to the idea of working as a reliever. He’s made just one appearance out of the pen in his career and that was his very first appearance for the Marlins way back in 1996. He’s made 473 consecutive starts since.

Hernandez has a pretty respectable 4.29 ERA in 28 starts this year, though he is at 4.99 since the All-Star break. One wonders if he might be part of a rare September trade should some team approach the Nationals. Hernandez wouldn’t be eligible to pitch in the postseason, but he’d make sense as an injury replacement: he could certainly eat up a few starts that might otherwise go to inexperienced pitchers.

With Hernandez out of the mix, it looks like the Nationals will use a rotation of John Lannan, Stephen Strasburg, Ross Detwiler, Chien-Ming Wang and Tom Milone the rest of the way.