Davey Johnson leaves Nationals-Phillies game with numbness in leg

Wilfredo Lee / AP

Nationals Manager Davey Johnson left in the seventh inning of Wednesday’s 5-1 win over the Philadelphia Phillies when his left leg went numb —  an issue, he said, was linked to bulging disks pinching nerves in his back.

The 69-year-old manager said he received treatment for the inflammation in his back. Johnson’s absence was evident from the seventh inning on, when bench coach Randy Knorr came out of the dugout to inform the umpires of lineup changes and took the ball from starter Edwin Jackson.

“I’ll be fine,” Johnson insisted after the game.

Players were only somewhat aware of what happened to Johnson, and like their manager they joked about it. ”Davey’s Davey,” Jackson said. “He’ll be ready to go like anyone else.”

“I thought he just needed a nap,” added Adam LaRoche. Said Jayson Werth: “His back hurt. My leg hurts. [Desmond's] leg hurts. We’re all hurting. It’s September. So maybe they’re sympathy pains. I’m not sure.”

Johnson said the numbness appeared in the third inning and he took a muscle relaxant to ease it. By the seventh inning, the loss of feeling in his leg didn’t subside and Johnson sought treatment from team physician Wiemi Douoguih. Johnson received X-rays and they showed there was normal narrowing between two disks in his back, which, in turn, press on nerves.

Johnson took a heavy dose of anti-inflammatory medicine to help the swelling, and if that doesn’t help, he could receive an anti-inflammatory shot. He insisted that neither the medication nor his condition would affect his managing.

“I hope not,” he said with a laugh. “All our players seem like they’ve been on it, taking it for inflammation. And the results for that have been good. So [Douoguih] thinks by tomorrow morning I should feel a whole lot better.”

Johnson has dealt with medical issues in the past. He has been treated for atrial fibrillation, a heart defect requiring medication that lessened his energy. In the winter of 2010, Johnson received a cardiac ablation, in which a catheter is inserted through a vein to the heart, to correct an arrhythmic heartbeat, and his strength returned. Johnson said he has also had a procedure to relieve back pain.

In his typical manner, Johnson brushed off the situation on Wednesday with humor, saying his biggest concern with a numb leg was embarrassing himself falling tripping down the dugout steps.

“I don’t want to miss a step going up and doing a header like Gio or somebody,” he said.

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