Gunning for top seed, Johnson sticking with Suzuki

At the start of his afternoon press conference today, Davey Johnson was asked about the Orioles, his former team both as a player and a manager, clinching their first playoff spot since Johnson managed them in 1997.

“It was great. Great,” Johnson said. “Beat the Yankees. Finish ahead of the Yankees.”

Johnson then paused.

“That’ll get you fired,” he said with a laugh.

A couple minutes later, Johnson was asked how he feels about being mentioned as a candidate for the Manager of the Year award, which he won back in 1997.

“I just have bad thoughts about that,” Johnson said, again breaking into a chuckle. “Last time I got the award, the same time, I got my pink slip.”

Playoff pressure apparently isn’t getting to Johnson, not that anyone should expect it to. The guy is having a blast.

Johnson’s lineup today looks identical to pretty much every lineup he’s filled out the last week and a half, including the guy behind the plate hitting eighth. Kurt Suzuki is starting for the 10th straight game today, but he doesn’t have a problem with that at all.

“I feel good,” Suzuki said today. “This time of year, it’s exciting. I want to be in there.”

“He would be choking me if I wasn’t playing him,” Johnson added. “I checked with him, he was feeling great. He don’t want out of there. He doesn’t look tired to me, either.”

Johnson said that in a perfect world, he’d like to lock up the No. 1 seed in the National League, which would allow him to start Gio Gonzalez for Game 1 on normal rest. In order to get the top seed, Johnson might need to stick with his starters and push the envelope with guys like Suzuki in order to hold off the Reds, who are currently tied with the Nationals for the top spot in the NL.

That goes contrary to something Johnson said a couple weeks ago, when he mentioned that he planned to rest some of his key guys when the Nationals locked up the division title.

“I don’t feel that anybody’s dragging,” Johnson said. “I think you could ask ‘em to a man - do you need some time off? Shoot, that game the other day we were blown out of, the 12-2 game, guys were fighting me to come out and give an at-bat to some guys on the bench.

“I said once we clinch, I’d rest them, but that was more to get my bench guys playing time, not that (the starters) would need the rest time.”

In case anyone was wondering, the Nats hold the head-to-head tiebreaker with the Reds, so if the teams finish with the same record, Washington would get the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

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