With MLB’s World Series news embargo lifted, the Nationals could make official what had been widely known for nearly a week: Matt Williams will replace Davey Johnson and become their next manager.
The Nationals announced Williams’s hiring today with a press release. A press conference will follow, perhaps tomorrow. Williams and Nationals officials will give their full thoughts at that time, but they provided some quotes in the team’s release. Here’s what they had to say in that forum.
Owner Ted Lerner: “Matt has a wealth of knowledge and experience as a former player and coach. But what most impresses us is his ability to understand and ably communicate situations and strategies in a disciplined, forthright manner. We think he is the right leader for a Washington Nationals team ready to compete for a World Series championship.”
General Manager Mike Rizzo: “I could not be more pleased to welcome Matt Williams and his family to the Nationals and the Nation’s Capital. In some ways, my interview with Matt began during our days together in Arizona, where his undeniable toughness, attention to detail and intensity established a foundation for a Diamondbacks expansion franchise that reached the postseason in its second season and won a World Series two years later. All these years later, Matt’s preparedness for this position, knowledge of our roster, system and league set him apart. He is a fierce competitor with a progressive view of the game.”
Williams: “I feel privileged and honored to be a part of this team. It’s a wonderful group of guys and a great organization. I’m simply here to help take us to the next level.”
Williams, 47, had served as the Diamondbacks’ third base coach. He came to know Rizzo at the end of his decorated 17-year playing career, when he manned third base for Arizona and Rizzo served as its scouting director. Williams beat out, among other, bench coach Randy Knorr, whom the Nationals hope to retain.
Rizzo will speak with reporters on a conference call at noon. We’ll have more after that.