Livan adjusting quite well to role as reliever

Livan adjusting quite well to role as reliever

Livan adjusting quite well to role as reliever
ST. LOUIS -- Livan Hernandez is finally getting a handle on his new-found role as a reliever.

"I'm starting to enjoy it," he said. "I like [hanging] with the guys out there."

The 37-year-old veteran right-hander made the 11th -- and most impressive -- relief appearance of his 16-year career on Friday night.

Hernandez worked out of bases-loaded jams in the 10th and 11th innings and was rewarded with the victory when Jason Heyward blasted a two-run homer in the top of the 12th in a 9-7 Braves victory over the Cardinals.

The 43-pitch stint included some anxious moments, but Hernandez emerged unscathed. He got pinch-hitter David Freese to ground into an inning-ending bases-loaded double play in the 10th. He induced Allen Craig to pop out with the sacks jammed in the 11th.

Hernandez picked up the first save of his career with 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief in a 13-9 win at Colorado on May 5.

With 474 starts under his belt, Hernandez is slowly adapting to life in the 'pen. He isn't ready to unseat Craig Kimbrel as closer, but he is certainly having fun.

"It's different, but it makes me ready for any situation," he said. "In the bullpen, you've got to stretch every inning because you never know when you're going to be in the game."

Kimbrel said Hernandez -- who signed with the Braves as a reliever hours after being released bu the Astros on March 30 -- has that natural bullpen mentality.

"He fits right in with the guys," Kimbrel said. "He's one of us now."

Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez says Hernandez has the perfect makeup for his new role.

"There are a lot of situations when he never gives up," Gonzalez said. "He knows exactly who to pitch to and how to pitch to a certain hitter."

Hernandez is 1-0 with one save and a 3.38 ERA in 11 appearances this season. He has thrown as little as one inning and as much as 4 1/3 innings.

"It's all different for me, but I'm really happy," he said.