TAMPA, Fla. - Matt Williams has made it very clear to his coaches that he wants input from every one of them throughout spring training.
The Nationals’ coaches have multiple group meetings every day, discussing the skill-sets of various players, workout schedules and how the pitchers will be used throughout spring. But the input Williams has received from his coaches doesn’t end there.
The construction of the Nats’ lineup has been a group effort, as well.
“We sit as a group and make our lineups, according to who we want to see where and how we want to go about doing it,” Williams said. “And I think you have to have that. I’m the fortunate one who gets to talk to (the media) every day, but we do it as a group. And that’s important for us to continue to do.”
That group effort when it comes to constructing the lineup, Williams said, will continue into the regular season. That might be a bit of an unorthodox practice at the big league level, but it’s important to Williams that he continues to consult his coaches on those type of decisions for multiple reasons.
“I know that I want them to feel like they have input, and we all want to collectively make the decisions on our club as a team,” Williams said. “I encourage them to be forthright and give me their opinion, because it matters. And the fact that I don’t have 20 years of experience doing this, so I’m going to need their help, too.”
While many managers bring in a number of their own coaches when they take a new managerial job, Williams inherited most of the coaches on his staff. That includes bench coach Randy Knorr, who interviewed for the Nats’ managerial job and has been a coach within the organization since 2005.
Defensive coordinator and advance coach Mark Weidemaier is the only coach that Williams brought with him from the Diamondbacks organization.
The Nats have three former big league catchers on their staff - Knorr, third base coach Bobby Henley and bullpen coach Matt LeCroy - a former pitcher in Steve McCatty, a former outfielder in Tony Tarasco and an infielder in Rick Schu. That’s in addition to Williams, a four-time Gold Glove winner at third base.
That gives Williams a wide variety of areas of expertise on his staff, allowing him to lean on different guys for different things.
“It’s not about helping me, it’s about helping us,” Williams said. “So everybody brings a unique skill-set to the equation. Certainly the knowledge of the organization is key, and we have a number of coaches that have that. We have a number of coaches that have managed at one level or another.
“Like I said, we have a lot of former catchers, which is good, but that lends to looking at the game a little bit different way. Which is a good thing. That’s why there are so many catchers that are managers in the big leagues - because they get a chance to see it from the opposite side. And I think for that matter, Weid has kind of been in that scenario, too, sitting (in the stands as a scout) and seeing the big picture of it all.
“So it’s been a great transition. Everybody’s been very helpful and we sit as a group and discuss.”