Veterans Livan Hernandez and Javier Vazquez are on the mound Wednesday

South Florida Sun-Sentinel

In a series featuring two of the oldest managers in baseball, it's appropriate that Wednesday's game features two of the oldest starting pitchers.

On the mound Wednesday at Nationals Park are veterans Livan Hernandez of the Nationals and Javier Vazquez of the Marlins.

"We both have a great passion for the game, and that is why we are still pitching," said 35-year-old Vazquez, who is in his 14th season.

Vazquez and Hernandez, who is 36 and in his 15th full season, are at or near the top in numerous active pitching categories, a testament to their longevity in a game that is particularly hard on starting pitchers.

Here's a partial list: Games started – Hernandez is No. 1 (466) and Vazquez No. 3 (431); most strikeouts – Vazquez No. 1 (2,456) and Hernandez No. 5 (1,910); innings pitched – Hernandez No. 2 (3,164 1/3) and Vazquez No. 3 (2,755); batters faced – Hernandez No. 2 (13,335) and Vazquez No. 3 (11,615).

That is a combined total of 24,940 batters faced in 5,832 2/3 innings pitched.

Both have avoided major injuries and both have been remarkably consistent.

Hernandez (171-172) has won 10 or more games in his last 13 seasons, and Vazquez (158-158) has matched that in his last 11 seasons.

Hernandez, who was born in Cuba, started his career with the Marlins and helped them win the 1997 World Series title.

Known for his trademark looping curveball, Hernandez is also an innings-eater whose arm never seems to wear out.

"That's the way he was brought up," said Marlins pitching coach Randy St. Claire about Hernandez. "For him, it was nothing for him to throw a boatload of pitches before he got here. It is not like now, when everything is so limited."

Vazquez and Hernandez were teammates in 2003 when both played for Montreal, and both had solid seasons, with Hernandez going 15-10 with a 3.20 ERA and Vazquez 13-12 with a 3.24 ERA.

"He was a great teammate," Vazquez said. "That slow curveball I throw, I learned it from him that season."

Compared with their past history, the veterans are having off years.

Hernandez is 5-9 with a 4.04 ERA, and Vazquez, who got off to a terrible start, is 6-9 with a 5.35 ERA.

"I feel blessed to have stayed healthy," Vazquez said about his longevity. "I also work hard because I never take anything for granted."

Watching from the dugouts will be Marlins manager Jack McKeon, 80, and the Nationals Davey Johnson, 68.

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