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03/28/08 10:00 AM ET
Livan making eighth Opening Day start
Veteran hurler set to be steadying influence on young staff
By Kelly Thesier / MLB.com
Changing teams is nothing new for Livan Hernandez, who has already donned five different uniforms over the course of his 10-year career. When Hernandez signed with the Twins in February, it marked his sixth organization, but if the 33-year-old veteran had his choice, he would prefer that number didn't increase again. "I'm very happy, I like to play here," Hernandez said. "Let's see if they give me a chance to play more years here, but I'd love to." It seems to be a surprising statement as the right-hander has yet to pitch a regular-season game with Minnesota. But the team has already shown its confidence in Hernandez. He is set to make his eighth Opening Day start when the Twins face the Angels at the Metrodome on March 31 at 6:05 p.m. CT. Despite Hernandez's vast experience of taking the ball in the first game of the season, he said that this Opening Day will be extra special. "It's going to be my first in the American League," Hernandez said. "So after I throw the first pitch, I'm going to hold the ball and put it in my collection." Pitching coach Rick Anderson said that the Twins decided to go with Hernandez as their Opening Day starter due to his vast experience. With a young rotation, where no pitcher other than Hernandez has more than 48 career starts, the coaching staff felt it was best to go with an arm who wouldn't get sidetracked by the "hoopla" of Opening Day. "You just don't know if these kids are going to get overly excited and try to do too much," Anderson said. "Having a veteran to start it, it takes away that concern. And once the opener is out of the way, then it's just about playing ball." Having joined the Twins' organization just days before the start of Spring Training, Hernandez has already had to make some adjustments. From the way he conducted himself in drills to some of his tendencies on the mound, Hernandez has tried to mold himself into what has been called the "Twins way." Hernandez has tried to do his best to fit that prototype -- although, at times, he admits it's been a tad difficult.
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.