With two outs in the top of the seventh inning, someone popped out of the Nationals’ dugout, walked to the mound and got the ball from starter Edwin Jackson.
That person wasn’t manager Davey Johnson, but bench coach Randy Knorr.
My first thought at the time was that Johnson was just having Knorr handle the managerial duties late in the game, given that it was the last day of the regular season. But when the Nationals’ skipper wasn’t out on the field for the postgame handshakes after the team’s 5-1 win and then was late to his postgame press conference, reporters started to get a bit concerned.
Turns out, Johnson had felt his left leg go numb early in the game, and eventually had to leave the dugout to go get tests done when it didn’t improve.
“About the third inning of the game I started losing all the feeling in my left leg. Just numb,” Johnson said. “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 doing a header like Gio (Gonzalez) or somebody.’ “
Johnson went to team doctor Wiemi Douoguih, who took five X-rays which showed Johnson just has a nerve issue in his lower back. He took some medication to knock out the inflammation and swelling and says he should feel better tomorrow.
“He thinks I’ll be better when I get on this medication,” Johnson said. “But I just didn’t want to embarrass myself if my leg gave out. Didn’t feel that was a good idea.”
Johnson was upbeat with reporters, even though he said his leg still felt numb. He said he doesn’t expect this in any way to impact his ability to manage the Nationals in the postseason.
Asked about their manager after the game, a few players, who had seen Johnson walking around and smiling, took the opportunity to make a few cracks about Johnson leaving the dugout early.
“I thought he just needed a nap,” Adam LaRoche said.
“Everyone else got a day off, yesterday or today, so I thought he was taking one,” Ryan Zimmerman said.
Good to see even the 69-year-old Johnson isn’t immune to the ribbings that can go on inside a major league clubhouse.