One of the coaches making a big move this season besides new manager Matt Williams is Bobby Henley. Henley moves from minor league field coordinator to Nationals third base coach this season.
It helps that Williams has a lot of experience as a first and third base coach himself with the Diamondbacks from 2010-13.
In the first week of camp, Williams is working on the subtleties of the game with Henley, even practicing signs from the dugout to third base in Viera, Fla.
“(We were working on) his view here certainly, because we play a lot of games here,” Williams said. “He has got experience. But his experience was he was the manager and he was running it in his own brain. So there is a difference between trying to figure out what the guy in the dugout is thinking and the exchange of those signs. He hasn’t been there for a while. So we are just practicing.
“It is like anything else. These guys go through bullpens. We take BP, we take grounders. He and I have to be on the same page.”
They even practiced the signs standing right next to each other to get them right. Williams remembers how important this was for him when he manned the spot.
“I know,” he said. “I have been the guy out there. So I know how important it is to me as the third base coach to understand what the manager is thinking. I am on the other side now so I have to make sure that he is comfortable with me, my idiosyncrasies, the way I do things, body language or whatever it is.”
Williams remembered working out signs and practiced them alongside Arizona manager Kirk Gibson.
“Gibby and I would do that a lot. Because we are here and people are around, people see it,” Williams said. “Generally, nobody sees it. He wants to know, I want to know, so we are here, we might as well do it.
“(Henley) is looking at his own positioning out there. What he could see clearly, what he can’t. So he is thinking about where he wants to be in relation to where we would be in the dugout to get the signs. If we want to do something, we don’t want to miss it.”
Williams says Henley’s experience with the Nationals, the players and prospects, is invaluable to him as he gets up to speed.
“Knowing personalities and knowing this team, coming from the outside, I didn’t know,” Williams said. “So I thought he has been running this camp and the minor league camp for a long time. He knows all these guys. I thought that was ultimately important because he knows them personally. He can certainly lend opinion and thoughts about how we deal with the guys. Couple games, he will get back in the mode at third base. That is not the issue. The issue is how I would transition with their help into this role. He has paid his dues. He deserves this chance.”