Washington Nationals' manager Matt Williams talked in his introductory press conference about the importance of defense and his emphasis on "bringing your glove" to the park every day as he put it. He also revealed then that he was bringing a defensive coach with him from Arizona.
Former D-Backs' Special Assistant to the GM and Major League Advance Scout Mark Weidemaier was hired away from the Diamondbacks to serve as the Nationals' Defensive Coordination and Advance Coach.
In an interview on the MLB Network's Hot Stove show this week, the Nats' new skipper talked more about the importance of defense and the role Weidemaier will play in D.C. Here's what Williams had to say:
"It's interesting because defensive alignment is a big part of the game these days. You just don't throw the gloves on and go play everybody straight up and look [to] your athletes to go catch the baseball and all of that. Today it's a little more intricate. There's a little more emphasis put on being in the right place. We've seen a lot of shifts and defense has become a very important part of the game. You have to, certainly, defend well if you're going to win and like I said, that's an important part of our dynamic. So, Mark Weidemaier is going to join us. He has a fantastic advance scouting pedigree that comes along with him and he'll be in charge of that and looking at our advance reports and tendencies of the other team and things like that. I think it's important to note that that part of it is growing in our game. We've seen it happen now a couple of times this offseason. There are teams that are putting more emphasis on defense and we are certainly one of them."
The Nationals are likely to field the same everyday lineup they had out there last season. Ryan Zimmerman's going to be back at third. Adam LaRoche is going to back at first. The "Will they sign Cano?" talk has finally died, so unless Danny Espinosa somehow outplays Anthony Rendon this spring, the Nats' 2011 1st Round pick figures to be back on the right side of the infield alongside double play partner Ian Desmond at short. The Nats just added an outfield bat to the bench in Nate McLouth, but the starting outfield of Bryce Harper, Denard Span and Jayson Werth will likely be out there left-to-right on Opening Day barring any injuries, setbacks, hiccups, etc.
Can they stay healthy and get back to 2012-ish levels of defensive efficiency?
Williams also explains in the interview what he's taken from the managers who have had an impact on his own career both in his playing and coaching days. "I've played under some great managers," Williams said. "I played under Dusty [Baker], he's my mentor, so I want to be a players' manager as he is. I want to be as prepared as Buck Showalter, who I played under. I want to understand veteran players like Bob Brenly did with us in the desert in 2001. Understand that sometimes you have to let the reins off a little bit and let the guys handle it themselves. I want a little bit of [Kirk Gibson's] passion and the way he goes about it. So I'll try to take a little bit from all of the guys that I played under and try to incorporate it into our game here."
If you missed the interview when it originally aired or when we included it in yesterday's link post, check it out below:
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- Wire Taps: Nationals' Skipper Says Stephen Strasburg Could Get Late Start This Spring