The Washington Nationals' 70-year-old skipper Davey Johnson would like to remain 300 games over .500 for his career as a manager, so he enlisted the help of Nats' lefty Gio Gonzalez, who will start game 162 of 2013 on Sunday afternoon in Chase Field in Arizona. The veteran of 17 seasons on the bench, after a 13-year playing career, told reporters after Friday night's win over the Diamondbacks that he'd asked his team to help him stay 300 games over after what could be his final season as a major league manager.
"I got the pressure on them now," Johnson joked after the Nats' 8-2 win which left him 1371-1070. "Gio's, he's ready to go in case we don't get it [Saturday]," the manager who helped bring postseason baseball back to the nation's capital said. "So, [Saturday] is a big day. Do one for the 'Gipper' okay?"
Gonzalez told reporters tonight, including the Washington Post's Adam Kilgore, that he felt it would be an honor to start Davey Johnson's last game as a manager, so he's on board with the decision to come back for one more in 2013, which will also give the 28-year-old left-hander an opportunity to hit the 200 inning and K marks. After 32 starts this season in his second year in D.C., Gonzalez is (11-8) with a 3.36 ERA, 3.41 FIP, 76 walks (3.50 BB/9) and 192 Ks (8.83 K/9) in 195 2/3 IP. The Nats' lefty told the WaPost's Mr. Kilgore that Johnson asking him to start on Sunday meant a lot to him:
"It’s nice when you have the skip come up to you and say it would be truly an honor for you to go up there and pitch, not only for yourself but for me, too. You take that to heart, and you understand it. I’ll be the last starting pitcher for him. It’s something that I’ll always remember."
Johnson was honored in Nationals Park last Sunday in the final home game of the 2013 campaign in a ceremony and video that he admitted affected him more than he expected it to. "I mean, I was really moved by everything," Johnson said. "It was really nicely done. Brought back a lot of old memories. It was fun seeing me in a Japanese uniform again. But that was really sweet and I was really moved by it. The guys were great and I felt like when it was over I should go ahead take off my uniform and go and crawl in a hole somewhere or something. But that was nice."
The Nats' skipper has stated repeatedly that he intends to remain involved in baseball in some way after Sunday's season finale, but it will be his last game as the Nationals' manager.
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