NEW YORK -- Braves right-handed pitcher Livan Hernandez entered Saturday afternoon's game against the Mets to face Lucas Duda with two on and one out in the fifth inning. Duda was just 10 when the veteran hurler made the only previous relief appearance of his career.
Hernandez's only previous relief appearance came when he made his Major League debut with three scoreless innings against the Braves on Sept. 24, 1996. Javy Lopez, Rafael Belliard and current Braves bullpen coach Eddie Perez were among the hitters the Cuban right-hander faced that day.
Having made 474 starts since then, Hernandez now finds himself attempting to extend his career while serving as a long reliever. The 37-year-old right-hander did not seem to have trouble adjusting to his role. He allowed one of his inherited runners to score on a two-out fifth-inning single, then showed his veteran poise while striking out Ike Davis with two on to end the sixth inning.
"You could see the experience yesterday," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said Sunday morning. "A couple pitches, he was not going to give in. He commanded his fastball and he never panicked."
Hours after being released by the Astros on March 30, Hernandez signed with the Braves with the understanding that he would be primarily used in a relief role.
"I liked it and I warmed up fast," Hernandez said. "I was ready after like 20 pitches."
Gonzalez confirmed Hernandez was ready shortly after being informed he could enter for Jair Jurrjens.
"We gave him a heads up and he called within more than reasonable time to say, 'I'm ready,'" Gonzalez said.