Livan Hernandez throws batting practice for the Nationals and mimics opposing pitchers

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At the end of his 17-season career lots of people made jokes about Livan Hernandez “throwing batting practice” because his fastball topped out in the high-80s and he served up a bunch of homers, but now he’s actually throwing batting practice.

Hernandez, who retired following the 2012 season and is now 39 years old, joined the Nationals as an “ambassador” and is now their official batting practice pitcher of choice. James Wagner of the Washington Post wrote a good article about Hernandez’s new role, including this excerpt:

But it isn’t just any regular batting practice. Hernandez actually pitches. Although he is closer to the plate than a standard mound, Hernandez throws almost as if he was in a game. Unlike coaches or bullpen catchers throwing fastballs, Hernandez throws curveballs, sliders and change-ups, too. Sometimes hitters will ask to simulate an at-bat and counts. A hitter struggling with breaking pitches might ask Hernandez for help and he will throw only curveballs to them. Hernandez can even mimic the delivery and times of that day’s opposing starter.

All joking aside, that seems like a pretty valuable thing to have for a baseball team. And not surprisingly for one of the most rubber-armed pitchers in baseball history, Hernandez said of his new gig: “I love it. If they left me there, I’d throw the entire day.”

Cubs to activate Craig Kimbrel on Thursday

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The Cubs will activate reliever Craig Kimbrel ahead of Thursday afternoon’s game against the Braves, Sahadev Sharma of The Athletic reports.

Kimbrel, 31, ended a seven-month stint in free agency, agreeing to a three-year, $43 million contract with the Cubs earlier this month. He has made four minor league appearances, allowing one earned run on two hits and a walk with four strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings.

With an aggregate 3.96 ERA entering Wednesday, the Cubs’ bullpen has been among the better bullpens in the league. Adding Kimbrel, one of the greatest closers of all-time, certainly can’t hurt and will give them some stability in save situations.