Nationals manager Davey Johnson was in the dugout for all of his team’s first 97 victories. But in the midst of them achieving their 98th — the most in major league baseball this season — Johnson’s left leg went numb and he was forced from the bench in the seventh inning to have tests run.
Johnson had five X-rays taken by Nationals medical director Wiemi Douoguih and they revealed some narrowing between his L3-L4 vertebrae that was causing the inflammation and numbness. Douoguih put Johnson on the proper medication and the issue is not expected to affect him or his ability to manage the team in the playoffs.
“Nothing wrong with me,” Johnson said, though he admitted the numbness was worrisome at first.
“About the third inning of the game I started losing all the feeling in my left leg. Just numb. Took a muscle relaxer about that time. Heavy dose of aspirin. About the seventh inning didn’t let up. I said, ‘I don’t want to miss a step going up and do a header like Gio (Gonzalez) or somebody.’”
Bench coach Randy Knorr managed for the remainder of the Nationals’ 5-1 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on the regular season’s final day.
“It was funny, when (Edwin Jackson) came out of the game, they gave him a standing ovation,” said shortstop Ian Desmond. “I said, ‘Randy, look man, they’re cheering for you.’ He kind of tipped his cap a little bit. It was pretty funny. We all had a good laugh.”
Johnson, too, laughed off the scare and said he had no concern it’d affect his chances to be in the dugout when the Nationals open the playoffs on Sunday night in either St. Louis or Atlanta.
His players didn’t seem to think the issue was all that serious, either.
“I thought he just needed a nap,” quipped first baseman Adam LaRoche.
“I mean, his back hurt,” said right fielder Jayson Werth. “My leg hurts. (Desmond’s) leg hurts. Everybody’s hurting. I mean, it’s September. Maybe they’re sympathy pains. I’m not sure.”
Johnson, 69, still had not gotten the feeling back in his leg entirely when he met with the media just after 4 p.m. but he was still waiting for the medication Douoguih had prescribed to work its magic.
“I just didn’t want to embarrass myself if my leg gave out,” Johnson said. “Didn’t feel that was a good idea.”