Nov 9, 2013, 3:06 PM EST
At Matt Williams’ introductory press conference at Nationals Park, three Nats players decided to show up to meet their new manager. Ian Desmond, Tanner Roark and Jayson Werth were all in attendance, ready to move forward with their new skipper.
But though Werth and Williams met each other for the first time that day, it was not the only time they had exchanged words. Back in June of 2011 both men were involved in an altercation between the Nationals and Arizona Diamondbacks with whom Williams was the third base coach at the time.
It was the fourth and final game of the series between the two teams, on June 5, when Wilson Ramos hit a three-run homer in the eighth inning and took his time around the bases. After three hostile games between the two – including nine batters hit by pitches – Ramos decided to show off a bit and Williams took exception.
The new Nats manager stood at the top of the D-Backs bench and pointed into the opposing dugout, shouting at Ramos. Meanwhile Werth also stood up in the Nats’ dugout and yelled back at Williams. The heated exchange never reached blows, but both Werth and Williams remember it well.
Williams recalls gaining respect for both Ramos and Werth after that incident.
“I haven’t spoken to Wilson since,” Williams said. “But I can tell you this: on any given day, in any given city in any given time, something like that can happen. I love the fact that Jayson Werth stood up in the opposing dugout and yelled at me. That means that he competes. I love the fact that Wilson Ramos was upset that one of their guys got hit and he took exception. I love that fact. Doesn’t mean I don’t like the man.”
Werth echoed that sense of respect now over two years later.
“I definitely remember that. For him to stand up and yell at Wilson, I respected that a lot, just as he respected me yelling at him. It just makes for stuff to talk about. Behind closed doors, I’m sure we can give each other a hard time about that,” Werth said.
Williams further described it as part of the game. He is now glad to be on the same side of a player who will stick up for his teammates as Werth did that night.
“That’s competition, that’s baseball,” Williams said. “That’s the way we play the game. Just because Jayson is yelling at me doesn’t mean he doesn’t like me. He plays for the other team. Now, I’m fortunate and pleased that I’m on his team and we’re going to have a lot of fun.”
Werth is also glad to be on the same team as Williams, and had a matter-of-fact assessment about it just being part of baseball.
“It is what it is. Baseball is baseball, and we will continue to be baseball players,” he said. “You play long enough, you get into all kinds of situations with all different kinds of people. What it comes down to is, when you’re on the same team as somebody, it’s definitely a lot different than when you play against them. That’s basically all there is really to say about that day.”
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As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...
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