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09/02/11 7:25 PM ET

Livan to make final start of season Sunday

WASHINGTON -- Nationals manager Davey Johnson informed right-hander Livan Hernandez on Friday that Sunday will be his last game as a starter this season.

The team wants to see how well some of their young players, like right-hander Stephen Strasburg and left-hander Tom Milone, perform in the rotation.

Hernandez, 36, took the news well. Johnson also wants the veteran righty to stick with the team for the rest of the season and become a mentor/coach. Hernandez agreed to his new role. He will also pinch-hit, but will not work as a reliever.

A free agent after the season, Hernandez -- 8-12 with a 4.29 ERA in 28 starts this year -- reiterated that he wants to return to the Nats as a long reliever. He will not do that role for any other team. Johnson also told Hernandez that he would recommend to the front office that it re-sign him for 2012.

"It's part of the game," Hernandez said. "I want to help the young guys. I don' know what's going to happen next year. I want to try to come back and be a long reliever only for this team. I will not do it for anybody else. Let's see the situation. I'll give it a chance. I explained how much I want [to be in Washington] to [general manager Mike] Rizzo. Let's see what happens."

Hernandez said he remembered that when he was young, he learned the game from former Marlins teammate Alex Fernandez and Minor League manager Carlos Tosca. Not only did they teach Hernandez about baseball, but also how to be a professional.

"The most important thing is be a professional and try to do what you have to do to help anybody," Hernandez said. "I received help when I came into the league. Baseball is not easy. You have to give the young guys a chance and pitch in this level. This level is not easy. They have to see how they look."

Once his playing career is over, Hernandez is not sure what he wants to do. He would like to work for the Nationals and become a coach, and he's also thinking about becoming an agent or a professional golfer.

With Nix sidelined, Bernadina back in Majors

WASHINGTON -- With outfielder Laynce Nix out for at least a week with a strained right groin, the Nationals recalled outfielder Roger Bernadina from Triple-A Syracuse on Friday.

Bernadina wasn't available to start Friday against the Mes because of a knee injury he suffered Thursday with Syracuse.

Before his demotion, Bernadina was batting .247 with five home runs, 20 RBIs and 35 runs scored in 71 games.

Manager Davey Johnson is hoping that Bernadina has improved his routes in the outfield, as he's has had problems catching easy fly balls.

Espinosa gets first day off this season

WASHINGTON -- Nationals second baseman Danny Espinosa has been an iron man, not missing a game this season.

However, manager Davey Johnson decided to give Espinosa the day off on Friday because he hasn't been successful against Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey and has been in a 6-for-34 slump in his last 10 games.

Espinosa took the news well and understood Johnson's decision. Alex Cora got the start at second base.

"I've had zero success off R.A. Dickey. Cora feels comfortable against him," Espinosa said. "Cora is a very good ballplayer. I'm not disappointed at all. It will probably be good for me.

"I've gone through stretches where I hit the ball hard and got nothing for it. Maybe a day off will clear my mind and let myself go back to the right state of mind, so I can finish the season strong.

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.