The Washington Times - October 6, 2012, 06:12PM

ST. LOUIS — The back problem that left Davey Johnson’s left leg numb and forced him from Wednesday’s regular-season finale is improving.

Some feeling has returned to the leg, the Nationals manager said before Saturday’s workout at Busch Stadium.

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“I had about an hour on the table where they jabbed me and put some novocaine and cortisone to ease the inflammation,” the 69-year-old Johnson said. “I feel a heck of a lot better.”

Cortisone has been the Nationals’ wonder drug this season. Ryan Zimmerman got an injection in his right shoulder’s AC joint in June and Danny Espinosa took one in his left shoulder in September. Both shots kept the players from extended disabled list stints — and took away pain they felt at the plate.

Johnson left the dugout in the seventh inning against the Phillies, worried by the numbness that aspirin and muscle relaxers couldn’t defeat. Five X-rays by Nationals medical director Wiemi Douoguih diagnosed Johnson with narrowing between his L3 and L4 vertebrae. That caused the numbness.

Johnson admitted his back remained stiff Saturday, not helped by the chilly afternoon. He walked gingerly into his press conference, but later played catch along the third base line and looked like his old self.

“I think with Davey,” Gio Gonzalez said, “he’s just got to stay healthy.”