Matt Williams will be introduced as the fifth manager in Nationals history in a 2 p.m. press conference today at Nationals Park. Williams, 47, a former 17-year major leaguer and five-time all-star, spent the past four season as a coach for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
He was one of at least five candidates interviewed for the position but was chosen as Davey Johnson’s successor because of, among a variety of reasons, his familiarity with General Manager Mike Rizzo, his demeanor, his baseball experience and his communication skills. Williams is a first-time major league manager.
We will provide updates below once the press conference begins.
1:53 p.m.: Ted Lerner and the ownership group are here in the press conference room for Matt Williams’ introduction. So is bench coach Randy Knorr, along with players Ian Desmond, Jayson Werth and Tanner Roark.
2:03 p.m.: After the Nationals’ ownership group and players are introduced, Mike Rizzo and Matt Williams are introduced by radio announced Charlie Slowes. Then, Williams’ wife, Erika, and daughter, Madison, are also introduced and each given a present on behalf of the team.
2:05 p.m.: Rizzo and Williams pose for photos after Rizzo presents him with his first Nationals jersey. He will wear No. 9. Williams spins on the dais for the photographers and smiles towards his wife and daughter. “How’d I do?” Williams asked them. “Good?” His wife, Erika, responded: “A-plus.”
2:09 p.m.: Rizzo introduces Williams with some brief remarks: “The introduction of the Matt Williams era in Washington Nationals baseball. … We feel like we’ve got the right man at the right time here in Washington, D.C. … It’s a man who we’d like to emulate his demeanor on the field and in the clubhouse.”
2:11 p.m.: Williams thanks the Lerner family and the Nationals for the opportunity. And, he thanks the three Nationals players in attendance: “It’s not often you get players to come down and support you that you don’t really know.” And, he thanks Knorr, who interviewed for the job but wasn’t offered it: “We’re going to spend some time together for sure. … Randy, thank you for being here.” Williams said Knorr would come visit him next week.
2:13 p.m.: Asked what type of manager he will be, whether small ball or long ball, Williams said: “What type of manager will I be? It will be fluid. .. With the incredible youug men on this team, we have a chance t win if we do things right. … We’re going to refine some things and take the next steps to get to where we want to go.”
2:17 p.m.: On what needs to be fixed about the Nationals team, Williams said: “This isn’t a situation where you come in and something needs to be fixed. .. There are something that we can refine. I think we can play a little bit smarter baseball. I think we can use the tools we have a little better without going into specifics.”
2:20 p.m.: In 2011, Williams yelled at Wilson Ramos for taking a slow trot around the bases following a home run. Williams was asked about the incident and said he hasn’t spoken with Ramos yet, but spoke glowingly about Ramos and Jayson Werth, too. “I love the fact that Jayson Weth stood in the opposing dugout and yelled at me. That means he competes. I love that Wilson Ramos, another guy got hit and he took exception to that. Doesn’t mean I don’t like the guy.”
2:22 p.m.: Williams said all except one member of the coaching staff, Jim Lett, will return next season. Williams said the Nationals will add a seventh coach, Mark Weidemaier, formerly of the Diamondbacks, to serve as the team’s defensive coordination/advance coach. “I believe that preparation is the most important part of this game.”
2:27 p.m.: Williams offers some insight into his philosophies as a manager. As a third base coach, he was aggressive and believes that is how it should be. “I think if you apply pressure, you have the advantage.” Also, Williams sounds like a proponent of defensive shifts, which the Nationals didn’t do much of in the past. “I think that will help us be a better team.”
2:31 p.m.: During the interview process, Rizzo has said that Williams’ knowledge of the Nationals and minor league system was “impeccable.” Asked about how he knew that, Williams laughed: “I do have access to the internet. It’s pretty out there for everybody.” Williams did manage some Nationals prospects in the Arizona Fall League in 2012, and knows Adam LaRoche from their time together in Arizona.
2:34 p.m.: Williams said that he considers Dusty Baker his mentor and still does. “I spent hours and hours in the cage with him. He taught me to be a professional hitter.”
2:37 p.m.: And that’s it for the press conference.