When a magnitude 5.9 earthquake shook the East Coast just before 2 p.m. today, a handful of Nationals players and manager Davey Johnson were already at the ballpark, getting ready for a team picture. For the players that hadn't felt a quake before, it was an unnerving experience.
Reliever Tyler Clippard was planning to bike to Nationals Park from the apartment he shares with closer Drew Storen in Chinatown, but when his bike got a flat tire, he had to drive to the park. What would normally take him five minutes instead took 45, he said.
Clippard had just left his house when he went past an old building in his neighborhood that had been condemned, when he saw police officers surrounding it. He was told to move to the other side of the street, in case it collapsed. "I had to bob and weave (to get here)," he said.
When the earthquake hit, Clippard was watching TV in his apartment. "I didn't know what was going on," Clippard said. "It's a helpless feeling - 'Is the building going to collapse? And if it does, see you later.' It was nuts."
Johnson was in his office, watching highlights of last night's game against the Diamondbacks. "My arm started shaking, and I said, 'Am I having a tremor here?'" Johnson said. "I looked at the table next to me, it was shaking, and I said, 'Oh. Earthquake.' My first year in pro ball, in Stockton, California, we were in a motel, and it really started shaking. But that was nothing today."
And for catcher Jesus Flores, who was at a mall shopping when the temblor happened, the earthquake brought back some frightening memories.
Flores was 13 when a magnitude 6.9 earthquake hit Cariaco, Venezuela, about 20 minutes from his hometown of Carupano. Eighty-one people were killed in the quake, and homes around Flores' neighborhood were totaled.
"Nobody rebuilt anything," Flores said. "People just picked up and started over."