Williams still looks like he could hit homers, and he belted 378 of them. He’s going to bring energy — and demand it, too. Williams mentioned that shortstop Ian Desmond, sitting in the front row, had suggested the Nats “work a little harder” next season, presumably on fundamentals, especially in spring training. Williams said that sounded very good to him.
“Attack” was also a word Williams enjoyed sprinkling in his conversation, like an Italian chef with garlic.
“Attack in every way possible,” he said. “I even think you can apply pressure defensively when the other team has the bases loaded and no outs.”
“I led the league in getting guys thrown out at home plate,” he said proudly of his work as Arizona’s third base coach. “My natural tendency is ‘go.’ ”
That “go” will include stealing second base more, going first-to-third more and (some more garlic, please) stealing third base, teaching the Nats to adore the safety squeeze as much as he does and even (at the edge of sanity) finding out whether “some of our good-hitting pitchers can hit-and-run, too.”
Williams was asked how he would get along with catcher Wilson Ramos with whom he once had a screaming argument over a slow home run trot by Ramos.
“Werth stood up and yelled at me that day; I love that,” Williams said of the cuss-a-thon. “That’s competition. That’s baseball. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t like me. It means he’s on the other team.”
Natitude may soon morph into Mattitude. The fact that Randy Knorr stays as bench coach only reinforces the image of Arizona’s broad-shouldered staff with Williams and Don Baylor backing up Manager Kirk Gibson. If Atlanta throws at Bryce Harper three times next year, Justin Upton will end up in the dirt twice. “That kind of stuff won’t go down the same way anymore,” one National said.
Good idea or risky? Too late to ask now. The Nats won’t be in the start-’em category of teams, like Tony La Russa’s belligerent clubs, but they may be in the finish-’em group. That bridge was crossed with this hire.
Williams, a four-time Gold Glove winner, also mentioned that “you bring your glove to work every day” and that the team for whom he had been third base coach last year “led the league in fielding percentage.” Oh, and he’s hired a seventh coach who’ll be in charge of radical defensive positioning, advance scouting and aligning pitching theory with defensive patterns. Williams mentioned that two Diamondbacks just won Gold Gloves this week. (No Nats did.) Did somebody say defense?