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Livan will return to Nationals next season

Livan will return to Nationals next season

WASHINGTON -- After Sunday's 4-2 victory over the Cardinals, the Nationals announced they have signed right-hander Livan Hernandez to a one-year extension worth $1 million plus incentives.

Hernandez, 35, entered Spring Training in the best shape of his life and it has paid off. He is 9-9 with a 3.49 ERA in 27 starts this season and 11-13 with a 3.90 ERA in 35 starts since rejoining the Nationals on Aug. 25, 2009.

Hernandez has gone 35-31 with a 4.27 ERA over 94 career starts with the Nationals and is 61-56 with a 3.89 ERA over 162 starts including his time with the Montreal franchise.

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"We think he has earned it," general manager Mike Rizzo said. "Livan is in great condition, a cornerstone and a leader of the pitching rotation. [Considering] the time he spends with our young guys, it's something that we thought that he earned and deserved. Throughout the winter, we know he is part of the ballclub. We know every fifth day we will be handing him the ball and he'll have a quality start. "

When he was a free agent last offseason, Hernandez had a tough time finding a job and didn't re-sign with the Nationals until a couple of weeks after pitchers and catchers reported to Spring Training. He won't have that worry next season.

"I'm really happy about the situation," Hernandez said. "I've always wanted to come back and play here. They gave me a chance to come back and play another year. Hopefully, it will be more years. Next year is going to be perfect. It's a dream come true.

"This year I proved I could pitch for a long time. I want to say thank you to the people who gave me a chance to come back next year and be part of the rotation."

His 35 victories with Washington make Hernandez the winningest pitcher in the six-year history of the organization. He is also club's trendsetter in starts (94), innings pitched (617) and strikeouts (354).

Hernandez also owns several organization firsts, including throwing the first pitch in the history of the franchise (April 4, 2005, in Philly) and at home (April 14, 2005), marking the return of baseball to the Washington, D.C., metroplex after a 33-year absence. He was always the team's first All-Star selection.

Hernandez has gone 165-160 with a 4.39 ERA in 440 game over 15 Major League seasons with the Nationals/Expos, Mets, Rockies, Twins, D-backs, Giants and Marlins. No other current Major League hurler has started at least 30 games over 12 consecutive seasons.

In fact, Hernandez -- slated for his next start Friday in Pittsburgh against the Pirates -- needs only three more starts to extend the streak to 13 seasons.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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