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08/26/09 7:42 PM ET

Nats seek long-term veteran pitcher

Hernandez fits bill, but not guaranteed to return in 2010

CHICAGO -- Nationals interim manager Jim Riggleman said he agrees with team president Stan Kasten and general manager Mike Rizzo that the team's biggest need this offseason is adding a veteran presence to the pitching staff.

The team currently has right-hander Livan Hernandez on the staff, but there are no guarantees that he will be back in 2010. Riggleman acknowledged that the Nationals had interest in veterans such as right-handers John Smoltz and Vicente Padilla when they became free agents recently, but those two pitchers wanted to play on winning teams. Padilla signed with the Dodgers, while Smoltz signed with the Cardinals.

"They can pick and choose where they go," Riggleman said. "They wanted to be with a first-place club. [They had a chance] to be with a first-place club, so they chose the Cardinals and Dodgers, [respectively]. That's the type of guy we are identifying now -- people like that over the winter."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.