Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Livan Hernandez plays catch on his first day at Nats camp this spring.
Hernandez has been coming here for so long, he vividly remembers the facility's early days in the mid-1990s when nothing but cow pastures surrounded the ballpark. The smell wafting over the right-field fence is permanently embedded in his mind.
This is, amazingly, Hernandez's 10th spring training in Viera. The first four came as a member of the Marlins, the original tenants of the facility on the state's east coast (1996-99). Then four more during his first stint with the Expos/Nationals (2003-06). And now he's back for the second camp of his second stint with the Nats, still occupying one of the two extra-large lockers reserved for the team's senior starting pitchers.
Come March 31, Hernandez will find himself in familiar territory as well: Standing on the mound delivering the first pitch of the season for the ninth time in his career, an assignment he relishes.
"It means a lot," he said. "I don't know how many times I've been doing it, maybe eight or nine? It's nice to pitch on the first day of the season, and I enjoy it. I'll try to win."
Read my full story about Livo on CSNwashington.com.