Nationals bench coach Randy Knorr, the popular choice of Washington players to succeed Davey Johnson as manager, will return and serve the same role for Matt Williams, Knorr said in a phone conversation. The sides are still working out contract terms, Knorr said, but Knorr’s return is such a formality that he will attend Friday’s press conference introducing Williams as manager.
Knorr interviewed for the managerial job, but once the Nationals chose Williams he quickly shoved aside any disappointment and decided he wanted to stay in Washington. Both General Manager Mike Rizzo and Williams have been in contact with Knorr since news of Williams’s hiring leaked last week.
“If I don’t have a managing job in the big leagues, there’s not a job in baseball better than the bench coach for the Nationals,” Knorr said in a phone conversation. “Matt’s a good dude and everything. I have no problem working for him.”
The Nationals wanted to retain Knorr for both his keen baseball mind and his intimate knowledge of their personnel. Knorr managed 14 members of the Nationals’ 40-man roster in the minor leagues and has been a part of the organization as a coach, minor league manager or player since 2001, four years before the Expos relocated to Washington and became the Nationals.
Knorr’s presence could be seen as strange dynamic — players openly lobbied for him to become the manager, and now he will be present as Williams works to mold the team in his image. But Knorr’s personality will help alleviate that concern. He is not the undermining type. Knorr said Williams endorsed Rizzo’s idea to bring him back, and and he does not expect any awkwardness.
“I don’t think so,” Knorr said. “I appreciated like you wouldn’t believe that [players] were for me and behind me. It makes me feel great that those guys are backing me like that. But I think when it comes time to go play, they’ll all mesh together.
“I’m the bench coach. I don’t look in the past. I look in the present. I’m good with it. I’m fine with it. Let’s go. I’m looking forward to working with [Williams] and winning a championship.”