Long before pitcher Gio Gonzalez made his first start for the Washington Nationals, he spotted two fans outside the Nationals spring training complex in Viera, Florida, wearing Chicken Mode t-shirts.
Lacking any context, the phrase nonetheless spoke to the Nat’s happy-go-lucky new pitcher.
“Chicken Mode?,” Gio called out. “Yeah, we’ve got too much Beast Mode around here. We need more Chicken Mode!”
It didn’t take long for Gio to figure out that the shirts were a tribute to Nationals season ticket holder Hugh Kaufman, aka Rubber Chicken Man, who sits behind the home dugout and has has performed a number of rubber chicken sacrifices to help the team, most recently two months ago during a string of injuries.
Gonzalez asked Kaufman for a t-shirt, which Gio wore Wednesday morning for an interview with FOX 5 DC. “I always give [Hugh] a little shout out,” he told FOX 5’s Dave Ross.
“You got to be a little bit stronger to wear Beast Mode,” Gonzalez explained. “Chicken Mode is more like my area of expertise.”
Photo: Bill Menzel