Livan leading by example

Nats veteran starter Livan Hernandez may not have earned a win on Thursday afternoon, but he pitched well enough for his team to win.

The Nats were up against one of - if not the best - pitchers in the game in Ubaldo Jimenez. The Rockies pitcher was coming off a no-hitter against the Braves and he continued to dominate National League East opponents.

But, you have to love the way Livan battled. Remember, this is a man who grew up in Cuba where there was such a passion for the sport. But, unlike in our country, merely finding a baseball was often a challenge. When Livan and his friends would play a game, they would have to get creative and make a baseball. Someone always had to bring tape to roll up and they would throw mangoes. That was their way to play baseball.

When you watch Livan pitch, he’s got so much passion, but he’s also so focused. He did not take any time to gloat about the way he was able to make Troy Tulowitzki look silly at the plate. He said after the game that he’s so focused he doesn’t even take time to think about that.

Returning to DC was a priority for Livan this year. He told me that while he was playing here in 2005 he really loved the city and the fans. The veteran also told me he was impressed with the professionalism of the organization (both then and now). He cherishes the fact that the team gave him the opportunity to throw the first professional pitch at RFK and to meet President George Bush upon baseball’s return to the District.

Now it is time to do something else that’s special: Livan wants to win, and one of the reasons he is back wearing a Nationals uniform is because he likes the team’s chances this year. So far, he has been a key component in the team’s winning ways.