VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals coach and ambassador Livan Hernandez celebrated his 39th birthday on Thursday by watching pitchers throw in the bullpen, and he is impressed by what he is seeing from the young arms.
Hernandez raved about left-hander Felipe Rivero, who was acquired from the Rays in the Jose Lobaton trade last week, and reliever Xavier Cedeno, who threw in the bullpen on Thursday.
"His ball explodes from his hands," Hernandez said about Rivero. "A lot of people are throwing the ball [well]. Cedeno threw the ball [well]. He is a special lefty. It's going to be good when the [exhibition] games start."
When the spring season starts next Friday, Hernandez will continue to lend his expertise to the pitching staff.
"This is more important -- doing this and helping the guys get ready for the season," Hernandez said. "I want to help them put their minds together. In this game, the mind is more important. The mind is 90 percent of the game. When your mind is right, you are going to be good for a long time."
Delcarmen eyeing return to Majors with Nats
VIERA, Fla. -- The Nationals were willing to sign Manny Delcarmen to a Minor League deal with an invitation to Spring Training because of how he performed for the Licey Tigers of the Dominican Winter League.
Delcarmen had a feeling that if he went to the Domican Republic, teams would take notice of his talent on the mound. In 14 1/3 innings, Delcarmen struck out 18 batters and had an ERA under 2.00. He also proved that he is healthy, and his fastball was clocked in the mid-90s. In recent years, Delcarmen had dealt with elbow problems.
"I threw well. A lot of teams approached me and called my agent," Delcarmen said. "[The Nationals] were one of the teams that called me and kept persisting on wanting me to sign with them."
Delcarmen, 32, will try to make the team as a reliever. Last season, he was in the Orioles' organization, going 3-3 with a 2.83 ERA in 48 games for Triple-A Norfolk. The last time he pitched in a big league game was in 2010 for the Rockies.
Delcarmen is best remembered for his years with the Red Sox from 2005-10. His best season for Boston came in 2007, when he had a 2.05 ERA and helped the team win the World Series title. Delcarmen is hoping for a repeat performance with the Nationals.
"It's every kid's dream is to make it to the Majors, hopefully get that ring. I did it in Boston," Delcarmen said. "The Nationals are so close, it would be awesome to be part of that this year. You can see the hard work the guys are putting in right now. This is my first year here, and you can see the atmosphere is great. Hopefully, everybody gives it their best. The one thing is to shoot for a World Series. Hopefully, I will be part of that."
Espinosa working out at shortstop
VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals switch-hitter Danny Espinosa is battling Anthony Rendon for the starting second-base job; however, during the team's first full-squad workout on Thursday, Espinosa was working out at shortstop.
If Espinosa becomes a utility infielder for the Major League team, he will be Ian Desmond's backup. Espinosa said he didn't have a problem working out at shortstop, a position he played while he was in college.
"I love taking my groundballs at short," Espinosa said. "It's a fun place take groundballs because it's more challenging. You get used to your feet a little bit more. You work around balls at different angles. I like being over there. I really enjoy it."
Espinosa does not know how many games he will play at shortstop this spring, but manager Matt Williams said Espinosa will get a lot of playing time between the two positions.
• Nationals pitcher Ross Ohlendorf had his first bullpen session of the spring on Thursday. He was monitored closely by head athletic trainer Lee Kuntz and didn't have any problems. Ohlendorf's first 'pen session was delayed because of a sore left side.
He is expected to be the long man out of the bullpen for the Nationals this year. Last year, Ohlendorf was both a reliever and starter and did well during his first year in Washington, going 4-1 with a 3.28 ERA.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.