No surprise for Nats and Matt Williams
Matt Williams appears to be the choice for the Nationals’ managerial opening.
General manager Mike Rizzo has settled on Williams among the pool of candidates who interviewed for the job and plans to hire the Arizona Diamondbacks third base coach, a source familiar with the process confirmed this morning.
Rizzo also hopes to keep Randy Knorr, the other front-runner to replace Davey Johnson, as bench coach. Knorr said this morning he has not yet heard anything from the Nationals, but would consider staying on Williams’ staff if asked.
“That’s the way it goes,” said Knorr, who has been employed by the Expos/Nationals organization since 2001. “It was an honor and great experience to go through the interviewing process. … I would like to talk to Mike or Matt first. I’ve had a lot of these players and would love to be here when we play in the World Series.”
The Nationals haven’t confirmed the news, first reported by FoxSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal. An official announcement may not come until after the World Series, with Major League Baseball strongly discouraging clubs to take attention away from the annual Fall Classic.
Williams, 47, has been a member of the Diamondbacks’ coaching staff the last four seasons and previously managed in the Arizona Fall League. An intense competitor during his playing days with the Giants, Indians and Diamondbacks, he was a popular clubhouse leader for the 2001 Arizona club that won the World Series and employed Rizzo as scouting director.
Those who know Williams — who hit 378 homers, won four Gold Glove awards and made five All-Star teams — say he has mellowed some in retirement but remains popular for his straightforward approach and endearing loyalty to those who play for him. Rizzo has spoken fondly about Williams for years and has suggested in the past he would make a good manager someday.
Williams was selected from a pool of at least five candidates who interviewed with Rizzo to replace the departing Johnson. In addition to Knorr, who was Johnson’s bench coach the last two seasons and had overwhelming support from Nationals players, Rizzo interviewed third base coach Trent Jewett, Padres special assistant Brad Ausmus and Blue Jays bench coach DeMarlo Hale.