Nats' Hernandez to start against Mets

NEW YORK -- The Washington Nationals already have a bunch of fresh faces in the clubhouse, and the season is barely a week old.

The perennially scuffling club activated veteran right-hander Livan Hernandez on Sunday to start against the New York Mets, his former team, while shipping Garrett Mock to Triple-A Syracuse after only one start.

Washington also placed Mike Morse on the disabled list with a left calf injury, purchasing the contract of speedy outfielder Roger Bernadina from Syracuse, and plans to add left-hander Scott Olsen on Thursday when the Nationals play the opener of a three-game set against Milwaukee.

Hernandez was 7-8 with a 5.44 ERA as the fifth starter for the Mets last season, but struggled mightily in July and August and was eventually released. He signed with Washington and went 2-4 with a 5.36 ERA to finish the season.

He was considered a longshot to make the team after arriving at camp in February, and the portly pitcher worked hard to get into playing shape. Hernandez allowed only two earned runs in eight innings in two spring starts, helping him earn the last spot in the rotation.

"Good morning, good morning!" he shouted when he strolled into the clubhouse Sunday morning.

"Nice to see you, pops," shortstop Ian Desmond replied.

Hernandez wore a broad smile on his face while Mock quietly got dressed at the other end of the clubhouse. The 26-year-old right-hander gave up two runs on four hits in the series opener Friday against the Mets, when he walked five and lasted only 3 1-3 innings.

"I need to just go down and focus and pitch six, seven, eight innings, because that's what they need here," said Mock, who struggled late in the spring but got the first crack at the rotation on the strength of a strong finish last season. "I know that I have what it takes to pitch in the big leagues."

Morse hurt himself in the outfield earlier in the week and his trip to the DL opens a spot for Bernadina, an exciting prospect who went 6 for 15 with a homer and two stolen bases at Syracuse.

In other injury news, star third baseman Ryan Zimmerman was getting the day off after tweaking his left hamstring Saturday. The hamstring had been bothering him for a while.

Zimmerman said he felt better Sunday, but manager Jim Riggleman plans to sit him Monday at Philadelphia to give him an extra break. The Nationals are off Tuesday and hope to have Zimmerman back Wednesday against the Phillies.

"He's one of the best players in the National League and we'll miss him for a couple days, but hopefully it's only a couple days and we'll get him back in the lineup," Riggleman said.