Results tagged ‘ Matt Williams ’
by Amanda Comak
ATLANTA — Washington Nationals President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo met with the media before this afternoon’s game at Turner Field to discuss a litany of topics that have arisen in the season’s first two weeks.
Here’s some of what Rizzo discussed, from injuries to roster moves and the growing rivalry with the Atlanta Braves.
“We feel as good as we can with the glut of injuries that we’ve had to key players. We’re talking about your middle-of-the-lineup bats. But we prepared for it this offseason with the acquisitions of (catcher Jose Lobaton) and key guys like (Kevin Frandsen) and (Nate McLouth). We still feel good about the roster.”
On if he feels the Nationals are just not catching any breaks early, with regard to injuries:
“No, nobody cares. The rest of the league doesn’t care. We’re just trying to work our way through it. We’ve got a game every day. That’s the one thing about baseball. The everydayness of it is really what separates the sport. That’s why we have 40-man rosters, that’s why we have Minor League systems.
“Injuries happen and you have to prepare for them. We think we’re well-prepared and well-positioned to handle them. We’ve got games to play and games to win.”
On how Denard Span is doing after being placed on the 7-day DL Saturday with a concussion:
“We’re going to have the doctor re-examine him tomorrow in Miami. He’s going to do some physical activities, and then we’ll take it from there.”
On Ryan Zimmerman’s prognosis after fracturing his right thumb on Saturday night:
“It’s a clean fracture. I saw the X-rays and I talked to the doctor. He’s going to see a hand specialist (at the Cleveland Clinic) on Monday. We’ll get a diagnosis and make our plans from there.”
“He’s capable of playing (second base, third base and shortstop). His natural position is shortstop. He’s got the skillset to play shortstop. He’s going to play all the different positions, and being a switch hitter off the bench with power helps us.”
On Doug Fister’s rehab from a strained lat muscle:
“Doug’s involved in his (throwing) program. He’ll progress to another bullpen (on Monday), throwing all this pitches, and he’ll take the next step depending on how it goes.”
On his opinions of the job manager Matt Williams has done in the season’s first 11 games:
“It’s the same game he’s always watched. Putting the lineups together, running the game in his mind (it’s not unfamiliar to him). Besides the newness of instant replay, it’s baseball as usual.
“He’s got a great support system around him with the coaches. It’s baseball 24/7 with Matt and the rest of them. They’re constantly in the clubhouse talking baseball. It’s a great dynamic and it’s enjoyable to see.”
On his evaluations of Danny Espinosa thus far this season as he bounces back from 2013:
“We’re glad we drafted him and developed him. We’ve always valued him as a really good Major League player. It’s time for him and for other players on the team to show (what they can do).”
On how he views the Nationals’ games against the Braves:
“(I’ve seen) great games. They’ve come on the winning side of it more often than we like, but we feel confident against this team. We feel we’re better than this team. We respect them, we respect the organization, but we don’t fear them . We think we’re the better team and we think at the end of the day we’re going to come out on top.”
by Amanda Comak
“I don’t need to go out there and trick guys, and I don’t need to go out there and be perfect. I’ve just got to attack the strike zone, let my stuff work and get much better results that way.” — Stephen Strasburg after tossing 6.2 innings of one-run ball and striking out 12.
“To see him go out and execute it today, exactly the way he wanted to change and what he was going to mess with, was pretty good to see. That’s maturity. Everyone forgets how young he is. He’s going to keep on getting better and better, and today was proof of that.” — Ian Desmond on Stephen Strasburg
“This is the type of ball that we can play. You’ve got to keep tacking on runs late. These teams in our division, they can hit. So they’re going to be doing the same. But I think night in, night out if we come in here looking to outslug the other team, we’re going to be in good shape.” — Jayson Werth after the Nationals hit their second late-inning grand slam in as many games.
“We were already winning. ‘Come through’ is what Aaron Barrett did.” — Ian Desmond, when asked how he felt to ‘come through’ for the team with his grand slam that blew open a close game, referencing Aaron Barrett striking out Giancarlo Stanton to keep it a one-run game.
“The next one better be in the dirt.” — Catcher Sandy Leon to Aaron Barrett after Giancarlo Stanton crushed a slider foul. Stanton struck out on the next pitch.
by Amanda Comak
“When you’re put in that situation and the game is on the line, you want to come through for your teammates. I was happy to do that.” – Jayson Werth after his eighth-inning grand slam gave the Nationals a 10-7 victory.
“Knowing Jayson, if a pitcher looks at him wrong, he’ll take that personally. Them blatantly walking (Anthony Rendon) to get to him, you typically don’t walk to get to your 3-hole hitter, especially a veteran guy that’s proven he can get big hits. But they chose to, and it worked out in our favor this time.” – Craig Stammen, who turned in an outstanding 3.1 innings of relief to keep the Nationals in the game, on Werth’s slam.
“I’m just happy it went over the wall and we got three runs out of it.” – Bryce Harper on his majestic three-run home run into the third deck that got the Nationals back into the game.
“Any time you’re down five, it’s tough to come back. But they fought tonight. I’m proud of them for it. They stayed in it. Bryce’s homer helped. Even after they tied the game late, they still fought, which they’re happy with and I’m happy with.” — manager Matt Williams on the Nationals’ comeback.
by Amanda Comak
The roars from the sold-out crowd at Nationals Park on Friday afternoon began the moment shortstop Ian Desmond connected with David Hale‘s first-pitch curveball to open the bottom of the fifth inning.
They only increased as Desmond motored toward second base. And as Atlanta Braves left fielder Justin Upton threw his hands up in the left field corner, the cheers reached a crescendo. Desmond crossed home plate.
The Nationals had tied the game on an inside-the-park home run by their two-time Louisville Silver Slugger shortstop.
At least, that’s what the implication was when none of the umpires on the field signaled that the play was dead, and Upton proceeded to retrieve the ball from underneath the padding in the left field wall and throw it back to the infield.
But Braves Manager Fredi Gonzalez challenged the play. The instant replay crews in New York overturned the call, citing rule 7.05(f) and ruling that the ball was lodged in the padding of the wall. Desmond was awarded second base, and the Nationals’ first run was taken off the board.
Here’s what Nationals Manager Matt Williams had to say about the play after the game, which ended as a 2-1 Braves victory.
“(The umpires) told me that from replay, the ball was lodged between the pad and the dirt. I question that because when (Upton) had to, he reached down and threw it in. That was my question. He threw up his hands. Generally that is an indication that the ball was lodged, but when there was no signal from the umpire, throwing his hands up saying it was a double or lodged, Justin reached down, picked it up and threw it in.
“By that time, Ian had scored. They reviewed it and determined that it was lodged under the fence.”
“One of the reasons we have replay is to make sure we get calls right,” Williams continued. “I have question with that one though because of what happened after the fact — the fact that when (Upton) had to, he reached down and threw it in.
“(The umpire didn’t signal) so, for me, in the heat of the moment and with my naked eye, tells me that he didn’t think it was lodged. But it is a reviewable call and a reviewable play, so they did and determined that it was a double and the ball was lodged underneath the pad.”
by Amanda Comak
NEW YORK — Early Monday morning, Washington Nationals Manager Matt Williams shrugged his shoulders and issued a platitude about his nervous energy. “Opening Day,” Williams said a few hours before his first game as a Major League manager. “If you can’t get excited about Opening Day, something’s wrong.”
But almost as soon as the game began, excitement likely gave way to anxiety and stress. The Nationals’ first game of the season contained enough drama to fill a week’s worth of games, and while the victory — a 9-7 win in 10 innings over the New York Mets — was sweet, the prospect of at least 161 more ahead was perhaps the day’s most intriguing thought.
Through photos and videos, here are some of the highlights from a beautiful first day of the season:
Anthony Rendon’s first big hit of the day was this RBI-double.
Denard Span was in the thick of things all day, including on this game-tying double.
Anthony Rendon then gave the Nationals their 10th-inning cushion with this big three-run shot.
Stephen Strasburg struck out 10 in six innings of work.
by Amanda Comak
JUPITER, Fla. — The daily rhythm in Spring Training is relentless. Each day blends into the next as teams inch closer to playing games that count and partaking in moments that really matter. And, as is often the case in baseball, what sometimes moves the meter outside the walls of the clubhouse often gets less attention inside of it. Injuries hurt, but become accepted and moved past. Players come and go as trades and signings happen. It’s an existence that is always in motion.
But one thing that never gets old is the moment a player finds out he has made the Major Leagues for the first time. It’s wonderful in its purity.
Washington Nationals right-hander Aaron Barrett got to experience that very moment on Tuesday, when manager Matt Williams summoned him into his office and told him the one thing Barrett had waited the better part of a lifetime to hear: he is a big leaguer.
“It was one of those moments I’d dreamed about all my life, initially getting the call,” Barrett said, standing outside the visitors’ clubhouse at Roger Dean Stadium. “For me, I pictured myself being at Double-A, Triple-A, and getting the call-up for that experience. To get the call to make the team out of camp, it was unbelievable. Just a great feeling.”
Barrett was in the weight room after Tuesday’s game when he was told the manager wanted to see him. He’d been expecting the meeting to come at some point, knowing they’d need to summon him if they were planning to cut him, too. Only Williams and pitching coach Steve McCatty were in the office.
“Hey, we have some tough decisions that we have to make, and you’re one of those tough decisions,” Williams told Barrett.
“He looked at me, and it was a five- to 10-second pause there that, I think (to me) it lasted 10 minutes,” Barrett said. “And then he dropped the news. He said ‘Congratulations, you made the team.’ I just got very emotional, started tearing up a bit. Tears of joy. McCatty gave me a hug.”
As Barrett made his way back into the clubhouse and word began to spread, teammates made their way over to offer congratulations to the right-hander. But his next stop was the Nationals’ dugout at Space Coast Stadium, where he called up his wife, Kendyl, on FaceTime and shared his good news.
“(At that point) I was just overwhelmed with tears,” Barrett said. “To get to this point, it was just so surreal.”
“(My wife) was so shocked,” he added. “We’ve been through a lot as far as the whole Minor Leagues. She’s working and supported me throughout the whole Minor Leagues. To finally get that call that I made the team, she was just overwhelmed. She started crying. I started crying. It was just an awesome moment that I’ll never forget.
“After that, my parents and grandparents (who are in town coincidentally), I called them right after. They were just stoked. We went out to dinner last night, had a good time, celebrated a little bit. But overall, this is the start to a new journey. I plan on taking this step to the next level and continuing to work each and every day to get better so I can stay up here as long as I can.”
Barrett earned his way onto the team, without doubt, putting together quite a resume this spring. On Wednesday, knowing he’d be heading north with the team, Barrett extended his scoreless streak this spring to 10.2 innings. For the humble 26-year-old, it was the culmination to a long, winding journey and a tremendous story of perseverance.
“You come into camp, and for me, I was looking to get a few innings here and there. It was my first camp, just got added to the roster,” Barrett said. “I put myself in position to make the team, and now to be on the team, competing, now let’s go win some ballgames. Just an unreal experience. I’m ready to help the ball club, in whatever role that is.”
Next up: Opening Day
“I’m sure it’s going to be pretty exciting. I’ve never been part of that, obviously, so I’m sure I’m going to soak in as much as I can. Especially Opening Day and the home opener in D.C. I’m going to soak in every single moment that I can.”
Quote of the Day: Matt Williams on Bryce Harper after Harper was ejected from Wednesday’s game by first base umpire Jeff Gosney for expressing disagreement with an out call at first base.
“He said the magic word. I don’t know what he said, but the umpire told me he said something to him. The question I had with it was, did he say something? I didn’t see him make a gesture toward him or anything. But he said the magic word. So I had to go out there and have a discussion about it… Evidently the umpire thought he was addressing it to him, so that’s why he took the action he did. I think everybody’s a little chippy at this point. Everybody’s ready to go. And Bryce is fiery. If he said something he shouldn’t have said, the umpire felt it was appropriate to do that.”
Incidentally, Williams understands how hard it can be to control your emotions when you’re on the field. The Nationals’ manager was once ejected from a rehab game when he was a player.
“I’m playing third base. I’ve got four at-bats that day, and it’s kind of my last few days to get back to playing in the big leagues. A play at third, I tagged him, I thought he was out. Umpire said safe. I said, ‘No, he’s out.’ We went back and forth and he tossed me. And I went, ‘Wait a minute, I’ve got three more at-bats!’ It was too late at that point. No do-overs.”
“(But) it’s important for (Harper) to stay in games for us. Especially that early. As it turned out, he would have gotten a couple more at-bats and it could’ve made the difference. … I just think there’s a way to do it. You can express displeasure with a call and not push it over that edge. But again, we love the way he plays the game, because he’s all-out. He desperately wants to win, so we love that about him. But in a situation like that, he just has to not take it too far. That’s all. It happens.”
Danny Espinosa flashes the leather with a tremendous play:
Caleb Ramsey gets the Nationals on the board with a two-run single:
Stephen Perez smacks a triple in the ninth inning off Trevor Rosenthal:
The Nationals signed infielder/outfielder Kevin Frandsen to a Major League deal on Wednesday, giving Williams another versatile player to have on the bench. Frandsen, 31, will join the Nationals for their Grapefruit League finale on Thursday against the New York Mets. He elected to become a free agent on Tuesday after the Philadelphia Phillies outrighted him on Sunday. Read all the details on Frandsen’s signing here… The Nationals now have 29 players in camp, including right-hander Erik Davis, who is on the 60-day disabled list. The team will have to cut three more players before Opening Day on Monday.
The following is an excerpt from the Spring Training issue of Nationals Magazine. To read the full story, visit nationals.com/publications to find out how you can subscribe. The Spring Training magazine is on sale now, can be purchased at the Main Clubhouse Team Store at Nationals Park and is also available inside Space Coast Stadium on gamedays.
by Amanda Comak
The spotlights bore down on Matt Williams as he sat front-and-center on the main stage. To his left was Washington Nationals President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo. To his right, Mark D. Lerner, one of the Nationals’ Principal Owners.
“You have no idea,” Williams said, “how happy I am to be here.”
The Nationals will enter the 2014 season with a new manager, the fifth in the organization’s history. And while the reception that Williams received at NatsFest in late January was one of rousing approval, the reception he’d been preparing for more happened roughly 900 miles to the south.
In early February, Williams stood inside the Nationals’ clubhouse at Space Coast Stadium and looked around. The men who’ll make up the first Major League team he’ll ever manage sat around him. From the Minor Leaguers getting their first taste of big league camp, to the most wily of veterans inhabiting their usual lockers in the back left corner, they gathered together.
Williams thrust one message upon each of them: trust the process.
Williams doesn’t shy away from the fact that while his team is among league heavyweights in preseason predictions, flush with talent and driven to do better than they have, he is a rookie manager. A decorated and championship player, well-liked and respected coach, former broadcaster and one-time front office member, Williams has finally found the role that he’d searched for since retiring from playing.
He knows questions remain, because until a challenge presents itself — whether on the field or in the clubhouse — there is no iron-clad answer for how the manager will respond to it. He’s ready, make no mistake, but he also expects to learn a great deal this season.
Trust the process.
Believe in the work they’re putting in, and they’ll get to where they want to go.
“Day one,” he said, “we have to understand the process.”
To continue reading “Trust the Process” on Nationals Manager Matt Williams, along with more great content from Nationals Magazine, please visit nationals.com/publications, or pick up a copy at the Main Clubhouse Team Store at Nationals Park, as well as inside Space Coast Stadium on gamedays.
by Amanda Comak
The Washington Nationals have entered their final week of Grapefruit League play. With few remaining roster decisions left, Nationals Manager Matt Williams admitted on Saturday that one or two more strong performances may not sway a well thought-out roster decision, but they don’t hurt to add to a body of work, either.
With that in mind, and as the Nationals’ slate of remaining games dropped to four with a 3-1 loss to the New York Mets on Sunday afternoon, here’s the weekend version of the “Daily Wrap.”
Players of the (Weekend): Danny Espinosa & Tanner Roark
Williams has said positive things about Danny Espinosa’s approach at the plate all spring, but often it was accompanied by a disclaimer that the infielder’s numbers may not reflect just how positively the Nationals were viewing him. That changed on Saturday when Espinosa smacked two home runs (including a walk-off shot to give the Nationals the victory) and reaped the rewards of his altered approach while continuing to play stellar defense.
“I feel like I’ve really been sticking to what I’m trying to do, and just simplify as much as possible,” Espinosa said. “It was nice today to see it… I was just trying to stay short to the ball and just be on time. Not swinging as hard as I can, but just short and on time and trying to barrel the ball.”
On Sunday, it was Tanner Roark, who filled out his final application for the No. 5 starter spot with a strong performance against the New York Mets. Roark tossed 5.2 innings and allowed just one run on two hits and a walk in his his final Grapefruit League start. (Highlights below)
Taylor Jordan will start on Monday, and by week’s end, perhaps, the Nationals will have filled out the back end of their rotation.
“I think he’s made a very good case,” Williams said of Roark. “We’ll get a good look at Taylor again (on Monday). But Tanner certainly made a really strong case.”
“I went out there and competed, “Roark said. “Got outs. Didn’t walk many guys. I did have leadoff walks, and those come back to bite you, and they did (Sunday). Other than that, I feel like I’ve done pretty well.”
Quote of the Day: Matt Williams on why the entire Nationals roster is traveling to the team’s final four Grapefruit League road games — even if they’re not scheduled to play. It started Sunday, with the dugout filled in Port St. Lucie.
“We’re a team. It’s important. It’s important for us to travel as a team. It’s important for us to be a team. There’s going to be adjustments in the next few days. We’ve got some guys going to the Minor League camp to get some at-bats. But today is a good day to have everybody here, regardless of whether they’re going to pitch or not.”
Tanner Roark looks strong, allowing just one run on two hits in 5.2 innings vs. Mets.
Bryce Harper shows of his cannon arm with a strong throw to get Chris Young at third base.
Nationals win a challenge of a caught-stealing call on Bryce Harper at second base, getting the call overturned.
The overturned call pays dividends as Harper scores on Ryan Zimmerman’s infield single.
The Nationals won their first challenge on Sunday, with Williams getting the umpires to go to instant replay to reverse an out call of Bryce Harper on an attempted steal of second base… Winning the challenge gave Williams another challenge to use later in the game, which he did on a play at first base in the top of the ninth. That call was upheld… The Nationals will travel to Jupiter, Fla., to face the Miami Marlins on Monday before returning to Space Coast Stadium for their final home game of the spring on Tuesday.
by Amanda Comak
The Washington Nationals‘ Grapefruit League slate was whittled to six remaining games on Friday afternoon when they fell to the St. Louis Cardinals, 2-0. Gio Gonzalez tossed 4.2 innings before a high pitch count cut his day a bit short, but the Nationals’ relievers did well against the Cardinals’ lineup after his departure.
Player of the Day: Right-hander Blake Treinen
Blake Treinen has been garnering a bit more attention of late, as the Nationals’ make cuts to their roster in Major League camp and the young, flamethrowing right-hander remains. Treinen, acquired from the Oakland Athletics in the trade that sent Michael Morse to the Seattle Mariners in January, 2013, has allowed just one run in his last 8.2 innings and scouts have continued to rave about his electric arsenal of pitches.
In a conversation with reporters on Friday afternoon, after he got two outs against the Cardinals, Treinen called the fact that he remains in Major League camp a “pleasant surprise.”
“My intentions and expectations coming into spring training were just to leave an impression,” Treinen told reporters. “And the fact I’m still around is an absolute blessing. I can’t thank them more for giving me the opportunity they’ve given me so far. I’m just trying to make the most of it, go day-by-day. Whatever their decision is at the end of spring training, it’s their decision. But I feel like I’ve done my absolute best to leave an impression with the big club.”
Quote of the Day: Manager Matt Williams on the ongoing competition for the starting second base job between Anthony Rendon and Danny Espinosa
“I’m not ready to make that decision yet. We’ve got a week left. They’ll continue to play and get at-bats. I like what I’ve seen. They’ve competed well. Anthony has played really well. His swing is right on. Danny’s swing is right on right now. They’re both quality defenders in the infield. They both play multiple positions. So, there’s options there.”
Caleb Ramsey makes a phenomenal play to throw out Kolten Wong at third base from deep in right field foul territory:
The Nationals will play their penultimate home game on Saturday afternoon when the Miami Marlins visit Space Coast Stadium. Doug Fister will start for the Nationals… Jordan Zimmermann will pitch in a Minor League game on Saturday as well.
by Amanda Comak
VIERA, Fla. — Thursday afternoon started with a tremendous pitching match-up: Washington Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg vs. reigning American League Cy Young winner Max Scherzer.
It ended with the Nationals taking home an 8-1 victory in which Strasburg continued his stellar spring and the Nationals’ offense rapped out five runs off seven hits against Scherzer — including a long home run to left center field by shortstop Ian Desmond.
Player of the Day: Second baseman Danny Espinosa
There were plenty of candidates for the “Player of the Day” on Thursday. Jayson Werth went 2-for-3 with a double, Ryan Zimmerman smacked a triple and Desmond crushed his third home run of the spring. But the honor goes to second baseman Danny Espinosa.
Espinosa, who went 1-for-3 with a base hit, scored the Nationals’ first run of the day and played stellar defensively.
In the first inning — moments after an uncharacteristic fielding error by Denard Span allowed Ian Kinsler to reach base — Espinosa snared a high feed from Desmond on a Tyler Collins grounder. With Kinsler bearing down on him at second, Espinosa still managed to zip off a strong throw to Adam LaRoche at first to complete the double play.
An inning that opened with a baserunner off Strasburg soon turned into a frame in which the right-hander faced the minimum.
It was a day that continued the positive impression Espinosa has been making on manager Matt Williams this spring.
“(His approach has been) fantastic,” Williams said. “He’s eager to play every day, and it’s really hard to get him out of a ballgame, which is a very good trait to have. The numbers are misleading both ways in Spring Training and I’m encouraged by the way he’s going about it. It’s really good.
“I’m pleased with his approach, I’m pleased with his work ethic every day and the way he’s going about his approach within the game. Sometimes they fall, sometimes they don’t, sometimes you swing and miss. But as long as he’s going about it the right way, I think he’ll be just fine.”
Quote of the Day: Stephen Strasburg on earning his third straight Opening Day start
Williams announced Wednesday night that Strasburg would take the ball for the Nationals on Opening Day in New York. Strasburg was honored by the decision, but admitted he has bigger goals.
“I hope my career isn’t just a reflection of how many Opening Day starts I have,” he said after tossing five scoreless innings against the Detroit Tigers to bring his spring ERA to 0.64. “There are a lot of guys in this rotation who deserve it and I’m just the first one out. I think every game is going to be just as important.
“The biggest goal as a team is that we’re playing in the playoffs, and I want to focus on trying to make starts in the playoffs more so than just an Opening Day start.”
Video highlights: Did you miss any of the Nationals’ feature on MLB Network’s 30 clubs in 30 days? Catch up with all of the highlights right here.
The Nationals trimmed their roster to 36 players in Major League camp on Thursday, optioning right-hander Ross Ohlendorf, catcher Jhonatan Solano, infielder Zach Walters and right-hander Christian Garcia to Triple-A Syracuse, along with reassigning right-hander Manny Delcarmen, first baseman Brock Peterson and infielder Will Rhymes to Minor League camp… The Nationals have just two games left at Space Coast Stadium this spring, playing Saturday against the Miami Marlins and Tuesday against the New York Mets… The team will finish the Grapefruit League slate with two road games, in Jupiter, Fla., and St. Lucie, Fla., against the St. Louis Cardinals and Mets, respectively, before heading north to face the Tigers in an exhibition game at Nationals Park on March 29.