Dec 16, 2013, 6:00 AM EDT
In the six weeks he’s been on the job, Matt Williams has learned a few things about the Nationals that he didn’t necessarily know before he was named their new manager.
In particular, everyone’s motivation to realize significant success right now.
“What I’ve learned is that this organization is very concerned with winning,” Williams said last week at the Winter Meetings. “There are high expectations, and we all embrace that. You don’t get those high expectations unless you have a team that’s willing to fulfill them or capable of fulfilling them. So all those things and all the pressure that comes along with that is good. We’re embracing that, and I’m excited about that.”
Hmm, the Nationals manager embracing lofty expectations? Haven’t we heard this before?
Don’t worry, there was no “World Series or bust” proclamation from Williams at the Winter Meetings, unlike predecessor Davey Johnson’s ill-advised quote from the previous year.
But make no mistake: Williams knows everyone in the baseball world is expecting big things from the Nationals in 2014. And he’s not going to pretend it doesn’t exist.
Williams came to this conclusion not only based on his own feelings but based off everything he has heard from his players and superiors since taking the job. He has spoken to about seven or eight players so far, and recently had a lengthy sit-down with Jayson Werth at the veteran outfielder’s home.
The rookie manager was struck by Werth, who conveyed the opinion of his teammates about the state of the Nationals in the wake of an 86-win season.
“That this club is very talented, certainly. And they’re a little disappointed in how things went last year, especially,” Williams said when asked to share Werth’s message. “And again, two years ago, winning more games than anyone else and not making it to where they wanted to get to is disappointing. But they’re even more disappointed in what happened last year. 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.
“So you sit there as the manager … man, these guys are on it. They’re ready to go. They are itching to get back and start and all of those things. We’re going to have to do things right next year, and all of that, to play well. But they’re looking to get back, which is a really good sign.”
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