The Nationals will have an ode to their past before Game 5 of the NL Division Series on Thursday, as former Nats starter Livan Hernandez will throw out the ceremonial first pitch to current first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. The two were teammates for five seasons in Washington.
Hernanez was supposed to kick off the Nats' series against the Dodgers with the first pitch for Game 1 last Friday, but Hurricane Matthew affected his travel plans flying in from Florida. The Nationals instead had injured catcher Wilson Ramos do the honor.
Hernandez, 41, had two stints with the franchise. He was with the Montreal Expos from 2003 through 2004, two seasons in which he made the All-Star team, and continued to pitch as a member of the Nationals into the 2006 season once they moved to Washington. He then returned in 2009 for three more years before leaving to pitch for the Braves and Brewers in 2012, his final MLB season.
Known as 'Livo,' Hernandez was a fan favorite in Washington and holds the team record for career starts as a National. Since leaving the game as a player, he has spent time with the Nationals organization as a special assistant.
The Nationals had former first baseman Adam LaRoche throw out the first pitch of Game 2 in Washington.
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Despite Mark Lerner's comments to NBC Sports Washington that the team hasn't been in recent contact with Bryce Harper and has filled out the roster, SNY's Andy Martino says not to give up hope.
"Do not believe that the Nationals are out on Harper," Martino said. "People I talk to around the situation are saying don't rule the Nationals out until the moment that Harper signs elsewhere."
Martino believes that the clearest options may not be what they seem.
"The Phillies of course are pursuing him, but I continue to hear they have a tough road to get Harper to come to Philly," he said. "The Phillies are possible but I don’t know that I would call them frontrunners."
After the news of Manny Machado signing with the Padres, all eyes turn to Bryce Harper and how long this continues to drag out.
The clock is ticking.
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When Nationals principal managing owner Mark Lerner see his team lose, he has a postgame ritual that rivals one of the most ordinary passionate fan.
“ I go into a closet and scream a little after,” Lerner told NBC Sports Washington's Todd Dybas in an exclusive interview in West Palm Beach, Fla. on Friday. “No, no. That’s one thing that’s good about baseball. You’re going to play the next day. But I go home. I’m totally depressed. I won’t turn on the sports news or anything and get up the next morning, it’s a new day, get up and go after it again today. When I’m sitting down there, I’m very passionate as a fan. I’m yelling at the umpires like everybody else. I want to win. I hate losing exhibition games let alone regular-season games.”
Lerner also spoke about Bryce Harper's future - or lack thereof - with the team, Anthony Rendon and what he expects from the team this season.
The interview is now available in full on the MyTeams app, which can be downloaded here.
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