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Johnson feels 'a lot better' as Nats prep for Game 1

ST. LOUIS -- After being diagnosed with a nerve issue Wednesday and spending time in the hospital Friday, Nationals manager Davey Johnson arrived at Busch Stadium on Saturday feeling "a lot better."

Johnson exited Wednesday's regular-season finale against the Phillies early due to numbness in his left leg caused by a narrowing of the L3 and L4 vertebrae. The manager said he was given novocaine and a cortisone shot -- the same type of treatment that turned around Ryan Zimmerman's season -- to ease the inflammation in his back.

Johnson said he felt pain free Saturday, complaining only of a stiff back irritated further by the sub-50-degree temperatures.

"This St. Louis weather ain't helping it," Johnson said. "I'm going to be fine."

Left-hander Gio Gonzalez, who will start Game 1 for Washington on Sunday, poked fun at Johnson's situation when describing his first year with the 69-year-old manager, the oldest in the Majors.

"He's a guy that brings excitement. He's always smiling," Gonzalez said. "I think with Davey, he's just got to stay healthy."

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