Livan Hernandez is back in the NL East

VIERA, Fla. - We might be seeing a lot of Livan Hernandez this year.

The 37-year-old righty, who appeared certain to make the Astros’ rotation entering spring, was released by Houston today, and then within a couple hours, Hernandez had signed with the Braves. first reported Hernandez’s signing with the Nationals’ division rival.

Hernandez allowed 10 earned runs in 16 Grapefruit League innings for Houston, although the bulk of that damage was allowed in one recent start.

As sarcastically suggested by a couple Twitter followers, if Hernandez hadn’t locked on elsewhere as a player, you wonder if he would have had interest in serving as the Nationals hitting coach/bunting instructor specifically for pitchers.

Hey, it couldn’t hurt.

Meanwhile, we’ve seen a number of Nationals hitters start to find a groove of late.

Jayson Werth has four home runs and seven extra-base hits this spring. Ian Desmond’s average is up to .299 after recording hits in eight of his last 10 games. Steve Lombardozzi is hitting a lofty .328 in 58 spring at-bats. Ryan Zimmerman never needed to “find a groove;” he’s had one all along.

A couple other regulars, however, have posted some semi-alarming numbers this spring.

Danny Espinosa is hitting .250 in Grapefruit League action, above his 2011 average of .236, but he’s struck out in exactly one-third of his at-bats (20 strikeouts in 60 ABs). This after he was set down on strikes 166 times last year.

That’s not what you want from your prospective No. 2 hitter.

Neither is Espinosa’s zero RBIs, which also is less than ideal.

Desmond’s strikeout total is also high (18 in 67 at-bats), and it looks even higher when put beside his two walks this spring.

Again, we shouldn’t ever read too much into statistics comes this time of year, but they’re worth noting.

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