KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Coach and team ambassador Livan Hernandez is going to file his retirement papers on Thursday, officially ending his career as a player.
The last time Hernandez played in the Majors was 2012, with the Braves and Brewers. He rejoined the Nationals this January and participated in NatsFest, and this spring has been coaching Nationals pitchers.
"This is the right time to do it," Hernandez said. "I had a lot of stuff on my mind. I was going to wait for the right time."
Hernandez declined to say what he will be doing with the Nationals after Spring Training, as the two are still talking about his future; he is confident that the team will be successful this season.
"I already have plans to do some stuff. I'll let you know before Spring Training is over," he said. "I'm going to be very excited. I want to follow the team. I want to keep doing what I'm doing. It's going to be nice. This team has all the potential to be in the playoffs and a chance to win the World Series this year.
"We have starting pitchers, relievers, we have a power team, we have a fast team. We have to put it together [from the first day of the season]. You will be more comfortable when you get to September, where you have a five-, six-game lead, whatever. You don't want to be behind the first-place team."
Hernandez, 39, is one of the most popular pitchers in franchise history. He was a workhorse during his time with the Expos/Nats, often among the league leaders in innings, and was considered the leader of the staff. He also has the distinction of throwing the first pitch in Nationals history and making an All-Star appearance with the club in 2005.
The Nats dealt him to the D-backs before the non-waiver Trade Deadline in 2006; he returned in August 2009.
He played in the big leagues for 17 years and won 178 games. He is best remembered for being named World Series MVP in 1997, while with the Marlins, and for guiding the Giants and D-backs to the postseason in 2002 and 2007, respectively.
"I had a lot of fun," he said. "I love what I do now. I'll try to get better and teach the young kids about the game."
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.