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Before recent games, bench coach Randy Knorr approaches catcher Kurt Suzuki to ask him if he feels strong enough to play. “You don’t even have to ask,” Suzuki tells him.

Suzuki will start behind the plate tonight for the 10th consecutive day, an usually large workload for a backstop. As the Nationals grind to the finish, still one victory away from clinching the National League East, Manager Davey Johnson wants to put his best lineup on the field. Suzuki does not want to sit, and even after the grind – which included a day game after a night game Sunday – he said he feels fine.

“Just the normal body aches that you get from the end of a long season,” Suzuki said. “When you get out there, it all seems to go away once you get that adrenaline going. This is my first time in a playoff race. I’m eager. I want to be in there.”

Said Johnson: “He would be choking me if I wasn’t playing him. He doesn’t look tired to me, either.”

In September, Suzuki has hit .300/.348/.488 with four homers. Batting eighth, he has been one of the Nationals’ most productive hitters, and he is not about to sit in the most important games of the year.

“You play through some things during the year normally,” Suzuki said. “When it comes down to this time of the year, you play through everything.”