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Julian Tavarez Sounds Like a Fun Guy

Tavarez saying hi to a wall in '04. (By Chris Lee - St. Louis Post Dispatch via AP)

Any thought that the end of the Jim Bowden Era would also signal the end of the unusual personality department in NatsTown should have been put to rest with that Julian Tavarez signing. Sure, his J-Lo quote, in which he compared the Nats to a 600-pound woman at 4 in the morning, has already been dubbed the Quote of the Year by Extra Mustard, but Tavarez has a long history of helping bloggers.

Heck, the seminal Boston blog Red Sox Monster even has a whole Crazy Man Tavarez tag, with tears of sorrow being spilled after he was designated for assignment last spring:

To say that this is a day in mourning at Red Sox Monster would be an understatement. No one, with the possible exception of Jonathan Papelbon, has been more entertaining to blog about over the last year-plus.

Well, that sounds promising. Borrowing some of the links, and doing some research of my own, here's what we can quickly learn.

* Tavarez once wore dress shoes marked with "Le Face de Papi" during a game.

* Tavarez, who once played for the Cubs, got in an interesting discussion about the merits of doubleheaders in 2007. So he was asked about Ernie Banks. "I don't know who Ernie Banks is, but I hope he was a good guy," Tavarez told the Hartford Courant. "I'm like him, I hope."

* Like many kids who grew up poor, Tavarez apparently decided that porn was one way out. As Gordon Edes reported, "While talking to Julian Tavarez the other day about his impoverished upbringing in the Dominican -- he never went to school, sold newspapers, cleaned shoes and helped his dad, a construction worker -- Tavarez sheepishly admitted he had an odd ambition as a kid. If he couldn't be a baseball player, he said, he thought he might have a future as an adult movie star."

* Manny Ramirez once suggested that Tavarez should be traded for a racing sausage.

* Tavarez signed up for a Learn English campaign. His advice: Tell yourself, "Yes I can. Yes I can. Yes I can." No wonder he wants to come to D.C.

* From the Boston Herald, May of 2007:

Julian Tavarez did not really have an explanation for why he rolled the ball to first base after fielding Frank Catalanotto's one-hopper back to the mound during the fourth inning of the Red Sox' 6-5 victory over Texas at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington yesterday. The unpredictable Red Sox pitcher said he even surprised himself by delivering the ball bocce-style to first baseman Kevin Youkilis for the second out of the inning.

"This is what I do,"' Tavarez matter-of-factly said. "I don't even think about it. I just play and have fun, and I just rolled the ball. You've got to enjoy the game, relax, and some things I just do.'"

* The Marlins once held a team meeting in which Jeff Torborg asked the team if they had any questions. "Yeah," pitcher A.J. Burnett said. "Julian, where did you get that green shirt?" Then they promptly broke a losing skid, with Tavarez on the mound. From the Sun-Sentinel, June 2005:

Mere words cannot describe the shirt Tavarez wore to work before pitching the Marlins to a much-needed 3-2 victory over Tampa Bay on Saturday night. It was a funky, long-sleeve, silk number with some sort of Everglades-inspired design, but it was the color that truly made the mind reel. "My green shirt," Tavarez (6-4) called it in a mammoth bit of understatement.

"Puke green," outfielder Eric Owens corrected. "Or maybe dirty-baby-diaper green. I don't even know where you get a shirt like that."

"He looked like a Sprite," Cliff Floyd said. "Yeah, he was pretty close to a Sprite can."

* There had been some murmurs around the bigs that Tavarez put pine tar in his cap. He denied, of course, but said the rumors never hurt his feelings. From the St. Louis Dispatch, August 2003:

"I used to let things like that bother me," Tavarez told reporters. "That's why they used to call me Yo-Yo Head earlier in my career.

"I'm not putting anything on the ball. I could see if I had 20 wins that people might say something. I have two wins. Would I only have two wins if I were cheating?" A clean cap might stop the bleating, but Tavarez said, "Everyone has their own preferences. ... Some people like clean caps; I like dirty caps."

Tavarez said he wondered why Cardinals lefthander Steve Kline and former Cardinals righthander Mike Timlin, now with Boston, haven't been accused of doctoring the ball. "Have you ever looked at their caps?" Tavarez said. "Steve Kline's cap is so filthy that it makes you want to throw up and Timlin's cap is always very shiny. No one ever questions them."

* He treats nostalgia like clubhouse phones. From an interview with the Chicago Tribune, July 2002, during a series in the Windy City:

"One of the reporters asked me: 'Why don't you go over there and talk to your friends?'" Tavarez said. "Who are your friends in baseball? Who sends you Christmas cards? Who calls you? When you get traded, nobody cares about you. You get traded you leave. You are in the past. This is how it is."

* He used to room with Manny during Spring Training when they were young 20-somethings with the Indians, shaving Manny's head at least once and regularly getting pranked by teammates. Oh, and they used to call each other "Rambo." From the Plain Dealer, April 1995:

"We listened to each other a lot," Tavarez said of Ramirez. "If there was a time one of us wanted to go out with some friends who might end up drinking, the other one would say, 'Roomie, what if we just rent a movie, stand inside and watch it?' Or maybe one of us would say, 'Why don't we go to practice early and lift weights?' Manny is a good guy. I hope he has a long career and makes a lot of money."

* He also was apparently nicknamed "Julian the Jukin' Jack Rabbit" by Papelbon. Which isn't quite as good as Yo-Yo Head or Rambo, but isn't bad.

By Dan Steinberg  |  March 17, 2009; 5:11 PM ET
Categories:  Nats  
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Good Lord - keep him away from the kids! I hate to think what kind of dirty influence he could have back in that bullpen with Hanrahan and Zimmermann.

Posted by: petey5 | March 17, 2009 6:32 PM | Report abuse

Here's two more tidbits I've heard from his time in St. Louis (where I'm from):

-One night he was sitting outside his apartment and invited some fans walking by to come in and eat meatball sandwiches he made for them.

-When Larry Walker was with the Cardinals, he hosted a party at his home in Denver when the team was playing the Rockies. Walker claims he walked into his master bedroom and found JT making out with his lady friend.

Posted by: Codasco | March 17, 2009 7:19 PM | Report abuse

The J.Lo quote is baseball's version of a Kinsley Gaffe:

I look forward to a year of JT if he makes the team. Unless he's going to go all Levale Speigner in the bullpen or something.

Posted by: Lindemann777 | March 18, 2009 7:31 AM | Report abuse

I didn't realize it until I saw Papelbon's little video, Tavares had a funny little clip on the MLB Bloopers video. Something about how good looking he is which was playful and funny. I didn't realize it was the same guy.

Posted by: NatsNut | March 18, 2009 9:36 AM | Report abuse

So glad to see someone appreciate Julian's quirkiness and not bring up alot of bad stuff, nice job!

Posted by: skippy1999 | March 18, 2009 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Make that two quirky relief pitchers added this week, welcome Joe Beimel to the Nats!

Posted by: PowerBoater69 | March 18, 2009 5:48 PM | Report abuse

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