Jayson Werth emerged from the Nationals‘ dugout Saturday afternoon with his shirttail hanging out, almost down to his knees, in tribute to closer Rafael Soriano. After each save, Soriano ritually untucks his shirt, the sign that his workday is done. Ian Desmond became the first National to mimic him earlier this year, and Werth joined him yesterday.
“He’s on the untuck team,” Desmond said.
Soriano has been pulling out his shirt with greater frequency lately. He has allowed no runs in his last nine appearances while allowing only three hits, converting seven consecutive save chances over that span. Now tied for third in the National League with 10 saves, Soriano has dominated with a fastball hovering around 90 mph, choosing his cutter over a harder four-seamer.
Desmond began untucking his shirt early in the year. At first, he did it in the handshake line, where few people noticed. This week, he demonstratively yanked it out at shortstop upon the final out.
“At first, he got mad I wasn’t doing it,” Desmond said. “I said, ‘Hey, I got to think about. You’re throwing a couple too many balls. Let me make sure that you’re the real thing.’ I wanted to do it. I’m not going to leave him on the island out there by himself.”
Desmond had been trying to convince Werth to join him in the post-win celebration. Sitting on the bench all game, Werth warmed to the idea. After Roger Bernadina threw out Russell Martin at second with a spinning throw from left-center, he decided it would be time.
“That was premeditated after Bernadina made that unbelievable play – which was unbelievable, by the way,” Werth said. “I was saying, ‘Let’s do this. Let’s get untucked. I want to join in the fun.’ I was ready.”
Soriano recorded the next two outs, striking out Jordy Mercer to end the game, and Werth yanked out his jersey.
“It felt pretty good,” Werth said. “Surprisingly, it felt pretty good. I’ve never done that before, but we’ll have to see.”
Desmond would not mind more teammates joining him and Werth. One day, he’d like to see every National, from the bullpen to bench, untuck together.
“One man at a time,” Desmond said.