VIERA, Fla. -- Tyler Clippard and Jordan Zimmermann said they are pleased that former teammate Livan Hernandez is around as a coach and ambassador for the Nationals.
Clippard said Hernandez brings a good vibe, and players are more receptive to listen to a person like Hernandez, because he brings a wealth of experience to the table. After all, Hernandez won 70 games for the Nationals (26 when they were in Montreal) and was a workhorse for the club.
"He was talking to someone about their breaking ball the other day, and I was kind of like listening in," Clippard said. "'What do you have for me, Livo? That's a pitch that I'm constantly working on.' He knows what he is talking about."
Hernandez often observes Zimmermann's bullpen sessions.
"He is watching on bullpen days," Zimmermann said. "He will say, 'Your curveball looks good, this looks good.' He is always watching. If I need any help or anything, he will be one of the first guys I go to."
Hernandez is also the first Nationals player to become a coach on the big league club.
Clippard skips 'pen session with minor back soreness
VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals right-hander Tyler Clippard didn't throw in the bullpen on Friday because of tightness in his back. The injury is not considered serious, and Clippard hopes to throw off the mound on Saturday.
"It's early in spring. They don't want me to rush it," Clippard said. "They are trying to take care of me, I guess. I'm champing at the bit. I'll be out there tomorrow. I'm not going to lose anything, so no worries."
Clippard, 29, has been a workhorse for the Nationals, pitching 383 1/3 innings in the last five years, and he usually starts Spring Training slow.
"I know that's probably going to continue," Clippard said. "I don't want to throw 16 innings in Spring Training for no reason. It's one of those things that I know I'm going to be used a lot during the season, so I want to take it easy [during Spring Training] and be ready for Opening Day."
Treinen makes impression with strike-zone command
VIERA, Fla. -- Manager Matt Williams is impressed by how the ball comes out of Blake Treinen's hand during bullpen sessions, and the skipper believes the right-hander has the ability to command the strike zone.
Treinen, who was rated by MLB.com as the 17th best prospect in the Nationals' farm system in 2013, can throw a sinker as fast as 95 mph. He also developed a changeup late last season.
Treinen, who came from Oakland in the Michael Morse trade, is a non-roster invitee and is expected to start the season for Triple-A Syracuse. Last season, Treinen played for Class A Auburn and Double-A Harrisburg, and he posted a combined 6-7 record with a 3.47 ERA. He will likely start the season as a starter, but the Nationals haven't ruled out a bullpen role for him.
"We are really excited to have him," assistant general manager Doug Harris said. "He is very big physically, very athletic young man, very good aptitude. He is a power sinkerballer. It varies from day to day. It's still evolving."
Treinen is willing to be a starter or a reliever for the Nationals.
"My goal is just to go out and throw. Whatever they want to do with me is what they do with me. Whatever gives me the best opportunity to help the big league team," Treinen said.
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.