After a shaky managerial stint with the Washington Nationals, Matt Williams has returned home to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Williams was hired by the Diamondbacks in November, after being fired by the Nationals following a disappointing season.
On Friday, Williams talked with Arizona Sports 98.7 FM’s Doug and Wolf about his experiences as a manager and being back with the Diamondbacks.
“I’m excited. It has been a lot of fun and I’m excited to be here,” Williams said.
Williams first joined the Diamondbacks on Dec. 1, 1997 after being traded by the Cleveland Indians. In 2001, he batted .275 with 16 home runs and drove in 65 runs as the D-backs went onto post a 92-70 record, winning the National League West and defeating the New York Yankees in seven games for their first and only World Series championship.
After retiring as a player in 2003, Williams went onto serve in various roles for the Diamondbacks, eventually ending up as third base coach before leaving in 2014 to become manager of the Nationals.
However, his time as a manager was an up and down cycle. In 2014, Williams helped guide the Nationals to the best record in the National League (96-66) before falling in the NLDS to eventual World Series champion, San Francisco Giants.
Last year, the Nationals entered the season heavily favored to win the World Series, especially after signing free agent pitcher and former Diamondback Max Scherzer in the offseason. But struggles down the stretch and in-house fighting between closer Jonathan Papelbon and NL MVP Bryce Harper doomed Williams’ fate.
“You never know until you are in a situation in how you are going to react to it and what are you going to do,” Williams said of the experience of being a manager. “That is a part of the business of being a professional coach, it’s a part of being a professional player and a manager. I learned some valuable lessons. Sometimes you have to answer the question that isn’t asked, just to get in front of something, whatever it is. I learned a lot.”
In the meantime, Williams said he’s enjoying himself and is proud to be back and be a part of the Diamondbacks’ organization.
“This place is special,” he said. “You can walk upstairs and you have World Series champions, a manager (Tony La Russa) who is the chief officer of baseball that has won the World Series and has been there and done it and you can pick brains and that’s a lot of fun.”
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