The contingencies that could make the Nationals' rotation as strong and deep as it could possibly be this season - Chien-Ming Wang being full-go in May, Scott Olsen regaining his velocity and form after shoulder surgery, Ross Detwiler coming back strong from hip surgery - are things Mike Rizzo cannot find solace in and does not discuss.
The converse scenarios - all three of those players struggling with injuries - are what Rizzo spends his days preparing for.
They're the main reason Livan Hernandez is in Nationals camp this spring, and why the right-hander, soon to be 35 years old and starting the spring with his third different team in as many years, could once again wind up in Washington's rotation to start the year.
The Nationals brought Hernandez back again on a minor league deal primarily because he offers them one thing their rotation has in short supply: certainty. They know Hernandez won't throw fastballs that come within sniffing distance of 90 mph, but they also know he won't get himself into trouble with walks or big innings, and is good for a workmanlike, if not dominant, effort almost every time out.
Instead of chancing a roster spot on a talented, if unproven pitcher, the Nationals could end up giving one to Hernandez, whose floor and ceiling are both well-established.
"You know exactly what you get with him," Rizzo said. "He gives us some security."
Rizzo said Hernandez doesn't have a leg up on other pitchers for a rotation spot, but added minor league options are always a factor, and almost every starter candidate has at least one option year left. Based on that alone, it seems likely Hernandez will start the year in the rotation.
He threw a bullpen session on Friday after arriving in camp, happy to be back with the team that put him on the mound for its first game in Washington in 2005. Hernandez had told Rizzo all offseason he wanted to return to the Nationals, who brought him back last August for the second time, but a deal didn't come together until Wednesday.
"Always, I wanted to come back," Hernandez said. "I waited and waited, and so the time has come, and I signed, and that's it. I'm here now."
He said he felt good in his bullpen session today, which was the first time he'd been on the mound since last season.
"The shoulder feels fine. The mechanics are not 100 percent, but it's fine."