Jordan Zimmermann is the team’s unexpected witty one-line jokester. Gio Gonzalez is incessantly bouncing around and talking with everyone at once. Morse is perhaps the second-most cited comedian of the clubhouse.
Some teammates point to LaRoche as a quiet prankster. LaRoche, a veteran who mixes humor with sage advice, sent Miami Marlins Manager Ozzie Guillen an autographed Harper bat smeared in pine tar after Guillen accused Harper of using too much pine tar during a game. “He’s the silent assassin,” Chad Tracy said of LaRoche.
Some even said a teammate, possibly LaRoche, slipped bananas and sunflower seeds in the equipment bag of then-teammate Xavier Nady before he went to Class A Potomac on his minor league rehab assignment. LaRoche wouldn’t admit to being the author of the prank.
“It’s classified,” he said with a broad grin across his face. “That’s why I wear my camo around the clubhouse, slide in and out, go hit somebody, get out and nobody ever knows I was there.”
Other popular pranks among the team are putting Hot Stuff ointment in clothes, dumping baby powder on someone in the bathroom stall or putting shaving cream in the bathroom towels. Some players were reluctant to reveal some of the funniest moments because they’re private, and those likely wouldn’t be suitable to be repeated here.
Sometimes, however, their fun leaks out. Last week, the veterans performed the embarrassing annual tradition of rookie hazing. The first-year players donned red skin-tight leotards on the train ride to New York, posing as members of the women’s gymnastics team with gold medals around their necks and a USA Olympics flag to carry. Gonzalez shared the moment with all by tweeting out photos.
With less than three weeks left in the regular season, the Nationals are in prime position to lock up their first playoff berth and the National League East division crown. Their talent has become readily apparent to their opponents. Their personality has, too.
“You know you’re having fun when guys from the other teams are saying, ‘Man, you guys are having fun.’ ” Morse said. “. . . When all of this so-called pressure and other stuff starts coming along, we just keep maintaining what we’re doing.”