New Washington Nationals' skipper Matt Williams has a plan to share an inspirational quote with his players every day this spring. The Nats shared the first of those on Twitter this morning as the team prepared for their first workouts of the season in Viera, Florida:
When the first-time manager met with reporters after today's bullpen sessions and drills, Williams was asked to explain what purpose the quotes are supposed to serve.
"One, I want them to talk about it," he said. "As an example, today's quote is, 'He who holds the ball, controls the game.' I want them to have a conversation about that and talk amongst themselves. This is pitcher/catcher camp. It starts with the guy that holds the ball. So, we can control tempo, we can control the game if we do things properly on the mound. I want them to start that conversation. That and I want them to be reminded that that's the way we think as a staff. That we think that everything starts and stops with our pitching staff and if we do things properly we've got a chance every night."
And yes, he does have enough for every day of Spring Training.
"There are 41 in the computer right now," Williams joked.
"Really they're not that great. Most of them are not that great. But most of them pertain to our team and what we want them to accomplish and how we want them to go about it. So it's kind of for us."
The 48-year-old veteran of 17 major league seasons as a player has plenty of experience with Spring Training as a major leaguer and a coach, but it's different this time, of course. Williams is excited to get things started in his first spring as a manager, and he admitted today that he might go a little overboard with his preparation.
"It may be a little overboard too at times," Williams said. "But again, yesterday, going through the schedule for the 5,000th time for today, [Third Base Coach Bob] Henley, [Defensive Coordinator Mark] Weidemaier and [Bench Coach Randy] Knorr told me, 'We got it. Don't worry about it. It's fine. You go watch the pitchers. You'll be ok.' So they're taking it now, and so I told them that if I mention that word [schedule] in their presence again, every time I do I owe a dollar to the pot. So, I'm already a couple bucks in on day one."
Williams addressed the pitchers and catchers as a group for the first time today. The message he had for his team was simple.
"Just that everything starts with them," he explained. "Everything starts with the guy that holds the baseball. So, we're going to do it with conviction and make sure that we're prepared every time that they take the mound."
The Nationals' fifth full-time manager got a look at some of his pitchers for the first time today, and he admitted that he can't help but start evaluating the talent. "My brain starts going a million miles an hour," Williams said. "Roles? How would you use this guy? What kind of stuff does he have? And how would it play in a major league game and on our staff?
"I'll run through those scenarios a million times and then meet with [Pitching Coach Steve McCatty], meet with [Pitching Coordinator] Spin [Williams] and the rest of the staff and we'll make a plan from there."
"It's hard not to start it," Williams said of the evaluations, "because I've never seen them. A lot of the guys I've never seen. Certainly from that perspective. That's natural for me to start thinking about that. It's completely different when they get in a game, of course, the hitter gets in there and there [are] fans in the stands and all of that. That's when the true evaluation comes. But, I think it's natural for me to go there."
His first impressions?
"I can tell you this," he said. "There [are] some really good arms in this organization. And, so that was my impression of today."
Williams did admit that there are some things that he'll have to get used to.
"I was telling the coaching staff that I had a bad day today because I didn't get to pick up a fungo and I didn't get to throw any batting practice," Williams said. "So it's completely odd for me. Usually I'm out there and my hands have blisters and all that stuff. But it's part of my adjustment process too."
With the first day of workouts out of the way, Williams is still excited.
"I think that my biggest thing right now is I'm really looking forward to tomorrow," he said.
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