LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — A first-time manager, Matt Williams of the Washington Nationals says he has taken the pulse of his new club, figuratively, and he likes the results.
Talking to reporters Tuesday at the winter meetings, Williams said the Nationals are motivated by what happened in 2013 when the team underachieved and missed the playoffs.
"They want to make amends for that. They want to make sure that doesn't happen again. And that's the players talking, which is great," said Williams, who coached for the Diamondbacks before being hired by Nats general manager Mike Rizzo. "So you sit there as the manager, man, these guys are on it. They're ready to go."
Williams is excited about the lineup the Nats can unfurl. Not only the brute force brought by sluggers Jayson Werth, Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman, Ian Desmond, Wilson Ramos and Adam LaRoche, but also their collective look. Several of those players — notably Werth, Harper and La Roche — sport beards. Not surprisingly, Werth is particularly "shaggy" right now, Williams said.
"We've got the ability to have a couple of big, hairy guys, no pun intended, in the middle of the lineup, without naming names," Williams said. "We can stack lefty, righty, if that gives you any indication how something like that may work. So there's lots of options."
Williams, it should be noted, has a clean-shaven head.
But ace right-hander Stephen Strasburg is big and hairy in his own right. And he's 100 percent healthy, Williams said, after having surgery to remove bone chips in his elbow. Harper is recovering well from knee surgery, Williams said, and the same goes for LaRoche and his elbow.
Read More »from New manager Matt Williams: Nationals will rely on ‘big, hairy guys’