The Washington Nationals have opened Spring Training as pitchers and catchers have reported, as well as a large amount of position players. The first few days of Spring Training are usually pretty dry news-wise as pitchers arrive by mandate, though hearing and reading about position players reporting early will always bring a smile to a fan’s face.
Spring Training this year, however, is markedly different from years past as the Nationals are coming off a very disappointing 86-76 year. They have a new manager, plenty of new faces and a new attitude under that new manager in Matt Williams. Williams calling card early on will most likely be his attention to detail and his drive, which has been on full display early on this spring.
Williams has started every day of Spring Training with a quote, which have typically been baseball related, though it would not be shocking if Williams branched out at some point. He was also seen throwing batting practice to his hitters as well as practicing signs with new third base coach Bobby Henley after most of the players had left.
That’s right, practicing signs, with Williams in the dugout and Henley in the third base coach’s box. Williams and Henley have also practiced signs standing about five feet from each other. He has also instituted a rule that makes player transport via the team van mandatory.
Williams has also shown a softer side as he put an amusing picture of Gio Gonzalez up on a projector for all players to see and laugh at, so it’s pretty obvious that Williams is not wound too tightly. The transition from Davey Johnson to him should be essentially a non-story, though Williams is definitely going to be way more intense.
Early on though, it is very hard not to notice how prepared and ready Williams seems to be for this new venture in his life even without any major league managing experience, which can sometimes be overrated. Of course, it also is not entirely surprising, as Williams did say at the Winter Meetings he has basically every day of Spring Training planned out.
Williams’ early actions this spring are exciting and really mark a new era of Nationals baseball, and it will be really fun to watch him evolve over the season.