- - Monday, July 8, 2019

Tanner Rainey sometimes feels left out.

As a relief pitcher, Rainey spends most of his game out in the bullpen, so he usually isn’t in the dugout when the Nationals’ home run celebrations break out.

“I think I have been in the dugout once or twice when it happens,” Rainey said. “It is fun to see. Everybody is having fun with it.”

Well, almost everybody. Leave it to publicity-averse third baseman Anthony Rendon to opt out of the dancing.

“Some are shy and don’t want to do it,” second baseman Brian Dozier said. “Rendon – we need to work on his dance moves.”

The Nationals’ dugout dance party got its impetus from veteran outfielder/first baseman Gerardo Parra, 32, who signed with the Nationals on May 9 after he was let go by the San Francisco Giants.

His mantra is to have fun all the time, which was illustrated when he made his walk-up song “Baby Shark” — a song perfect for 4-year-olds’ birthday parties. But it’s a grown-up celebration in the dugout when the Nationals hit the longball.

“Since Parra has gotten here, he has brought a lot of interesting energy, to say the least,” said Paul Menhart, who took over as pitching coach the week before Parra arrived.

Parra “is a little crazy to begin with, which is a really good thing,” Dozier said. “He loves to dance. He made everybody dance.”

The Nationals hit a home run for the 21st game in a row on Sunday, extending the Montreal/Washington franchise record as well as the longest active streak in the majors.

Washington has hit 36 homers during the 21-game stretch with contributions from 10 different players: Matt Adams (seven), Rendon (six), Juan Soto (five), Suzuki (five), Dozier (four), Robles (four), Trea Turner (two) and one apiece from Parra, Yan Gomes and Howie Kendrick.

At the All-Star break, the Nationals have 125 homers this season, eighth out of 15 teams in the National League. The longball has helped Washington (47-42) win 28 of its last 39 games and forge its way back into the NL East race.

So there is plenty for them to celebrate. The individual nature of the home run hitter makes the group celebrations even more unique.

Players pay homage to the Hawaiian heritage of catcher Kurt Suzuki, who pretends to ride a wave in the dugout after his longballs. Center fielder Victor Robles, from the Dominican Republic, plays on the Latin beat when he goes deep.

“We have the salsa dances with the Latin guys. It is just a lot of fun,” Menhart said.

Then there is Dozier, who calls his own dugout twerking moves “borderline inappropriate.” He was able to show off again Sunday as his home run gave the Nationals a 1-0 lead in the second inning in a 5-2 win over the Kansas City Royals.

Nationals players and coaches aren’t concerned about offending the opposing team with their dancing. Menhart said every team celebrates in their own way.

“Everyone is trying to be unique,” he said. “We are part of it. It is part of our team camaraderie.”

Manager Dave Martinez likes that his players are having fun and keeping it confined to the dugout, but he joked that he tries not to watch.

“You ever watch some of those guys dance?” he said.

“You always try to have fun no matter what you are doing, on the field or in the dugout,” Dozier added. “That is the main thing.”

Of course, Dozier may have some selfish reasons for wanting to see the celebrations continue. Rainey thinks he has the best dance moves.

“I have to give it to Dozier,” Rainey said. “Dozier gets into it.”

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