Nationals eager to get to know new manager Williams
Werth, Desmond like what they hear; skipper to meet with bench coach Knorr
WASHINGTON -- Nationals bench coach Randy Knorr, outfielder Jayson Werth, shortstop Ian Desmond and right-hander Tanner Roark attended Matt Williams' news conference at Nationals Park on Friday afternoon, when Williams was introduced as the team's sixth manager.
Williams announced that he and Knorr are going to meet next week in Arizona to strategize about the 2014 season. Through Knorr, Williams will get an idea how the players are on and off the field.
"We have a chance to win if we can do things right," Williams said. "I think it's evident with everybody in this room ... that this is a very talented group of young men. So we are going to refine some things; we are going to take those next steps that we need to take."
Knorr, who also interviewed for the managerial job, made it known that he didn't want the story to be about him Friday. He said he was disappointed he didn't get the job, but he pointed out that Williams reached out to him after the word spread last Friday that Williams had the job as manager.
"I'm his bench coach and I will support him 100 percent. ... I didn't want any focus on me. I really want it on him."
Williams talked as if he wants to be a player's manager. He wants players to come to him whenever there is a problem and vice versa.
Many of the Nationals players wanted Knorr to become their manager because he managed many of them in the Minor Leagues. But they have accepted Williams as the manager.
"Today is really the first day I really talked to him or had a chance to meet him," Werth said. "As time goes on, I'll get to know him better and find out who he really is. But he is saying all the right things. He is articulate; he is doing a good job so far. So far, so good, I guess."
Williams' only experience as a manager was in the Arizona Fall League in 2012, when he guided the Salt River Rafters to the league finals, and that doesn't seem to bother Werth or Desmond.
"The only way to learn this game is to play it. He qualifies there, for sure," Werth said. "The character that he has ... I don't think that X's and O's are going to be a problem. He has Randy right behind him. ... I think those two guys at the helm is going to be great.
"Retaining Randy as bench coach -- he has been here a long time. Keeping all the coaches is going to help add to the club, the chemistry and ultimately winning. I think we are on the right track."
Desmond said he is willing to try something different. All he wants is a World Series title.
"I think Matt is going to do great. I'm intrigued by all the things he has said," Desmond said. "This is the first time I've had the opportunity to hear his game plan. I think everything he said makes sense. It's going to be a breath of fresh air, I think.
"We've played well over the last two years, but we haven't been to the championship game. I don't think there is anyone in our clubhouse or in this organization that isn't open to trying something new. ... We know that we are a better team than what we have done. Even in the 98-win season in 2012, we didn't get to where we wanted to go. We are all hungry. We understand that the window is going to be open for certain amount of time. I'm personally willing to try anything to make the most of it."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.