Back in 2013, while he was still a coach in the Arizona Diamondbacks' organization, Matt Williams, who wanted to get into managing, asked an old friend, Washington Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo, how best to get some experience.
After he was hired as the Nats' manager, Williams recounted a conversation he had with Rizzo about what he could do.
"I had spoken to [Rizzo] a couple years ago about my desire to manage at some point, and asked him as a friend what I should do," Williams explained in an MLB Network Radio interview that winter, "so he mentioned to me that I should get as much experience as I can in doing that.
So, I couldn't do it at the big league level so I tried to do it at the [Arizona] Fall League last year and then he called me after the season when they were looking at potential managers and said, 'I'd like to talk some baseball with you and bring you in and talk to the Lerner family and see what may be there.' So I said, 'Great.' And he called for permission from the Diamondbacks and I came in and talked a little while."
Rizzo, in an interview with 106.7 the FAN in D.C.'s Holden Kushner and Danny Rouhier after Williams was hired, was asked what he took out of the time Williams spent in the AFL.
"I took out of it that it was managerial experience," Rizzo said.
"He ran the ballclub. He made the moves. He controlled the bullpen and made the Xs and Os that a manager has to make. He also had a stint in Double-A filling in for Brett Butler [in 2007] for several months at the Double-A level. Like I said, there [are] a lot different roads to the manager's seat in the big leagues."
Williams apparently had an inkling that Rizzo was interested before Davey Johnson was relieved of his duties on the Nationals' bench.
According to what Dusty Baker said during a recent interview on 106.7 the FAN in D.C., Williams told him late in the 2013 campaign that he thought he had a chance to get the job.
"Matt had come into my office in Cincinnati, late in the year [in 2013] and said, 'Hey, I might have a chance to go to the Washington Nationals,;" Baker explained.
"So we talked a couple of times over the winter and well, I lost my job first and then this job was open. Detroit was open. Seattle was open. So I called -- not me -- my agent called and I told them, 'I'm not going to cut Matt out of the job, because that's my boy,' but I did want to show people that I wasn't retired."
"I really didn't want the job," Baker said during his introductory press conference in the nation's capital earlier this month, after he was hired to replace Williams on the Nationals' bench, "but I wanted to let people know that I was still interested in being in baseball.
"The reason I didn't want the job is because Matt Williams had already talked to me about different things and Matt was one of my prized pupils when I was a batting coach and the manager.
"I was glad that they didn't offer me the job because I didn't want to cut Matt out. The main reason I contacted the Nationals was just to show people that I was not retired."
Two years later, Baker was still not retired and he was interested when the Nationals reached out...
NATS BEAT: Baker's goals, BBWAA awards + more
• "Two weeks ago, when Dusty Baker was hired as Nationals manager, he talked about the special significance of taking the job in the nation's capital." - "Nationals Pastime: Dusty Baker has a list of reasons for wanting to win a World Series" - Chris Johnson, MASNSports.com
Rick Schu is coming back as the hitting coach of the #Nationals. I'll have more on https://t.co/yGl1p9fX0H.— William Ladson (@washingnats) November 16, 2015
• "This may come as a surprise, but Tyler Moore actually got more playing time this year than in any of his previous three big-league seasons." - "Roster review: Tyler Moore" - Mark Zuckerman, Nats Insider
• "With Span hitting the free agent market last week and unlikely to return to Washington, new manager Dusty Baker faces a similar predicament when trying to figure out who to bat leadoff." - "Nationals Pastime: Identifying a leadoff hitter is among issues Dusty Baker faces" - Chris Johnson, MASNSports.com
• "Bryce Harper had a season for the ages, only the ninth player in history to hit .330 with 42 homers and a .460 on-base percentage." - "Predicting the BBWAA award winners" - Mark Zuckerman, Nats Insider
BBWAA awards are handed out this week. Predicting how those will unfold: https://t.co/y4MMc6Rpoc— Mark Zuckerman (@ZuckermanCSN) November 16, 2015
NATIONAL(S) BEAT: Nats' offseason; Awards season; Virtual Harper
• "For the first time in a while, the Nationals enter the winter with a variety of question marks and a lack of linear solutions." - "Offseason Outlook: Washington Nationals" - Jeff Todd, MLB Trade Rumors
#Dodgers, #Nationals and #Dbacks are among the teams interested in #Rays relievers Brad Boxberger/Jake McGee.— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) November 16, 2015
• "USA TODAY Sports' writers and editors cast their votes when the season ended. Here's who we voted for in each award..." - "MLB award season: Handing out the hardware" - USA TODAY Sports
MLB Ambassador for Inclusion Billy Bean wrote a column on #Nats batboy Spenser Clark, who came out this week: https://t.co/J0ghBnMK1f— Andrew Simon (@AndrewSimonMLB) November 14, 2015
• "The video puts viewers inside the computer-graphics-enhanced body of the Washington Nationals slugger Bryce Harper. They hear his thoughts whispered as he takes pitches at the plate..." - "Brands Look Far and Wide for a Niche in Virtual Reality" - Robert D. Hof, The New York Times
• "Brett Gardner... He fits Washington, Seattle, the Mets, San Diego, San Francisco, and Kansas City. The Yankees would want a front-line starting pitcher in return." - "Sunday Baseball Notes: Craig Kimbrel trade could be start of winning formula for Red Sox" - Nick Cafardo, The Boston Globe
Sources: Jacque Jones candidate for #Nationals’ asst hitting coach. Played for Baker with #Cubs. #Padres AAA hitting coach start of ’14.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 14, 2015
NL EAST UPDATES: Phillies' starters; Mets dealing Wheeler?; Gordon does good
• Phillies: "General manager Matt Klentak swings a trade with Arizona for starting righthander Jeremy Hellickson." - "Phillies' new GM continues to add to pitching depth" - Ryan Lawrence, Philadelphia Daily News
Phillies finalizing trade for Jeremy Hellickson, sources confirm. Hearing it's for a low level Minor Leaguer. @JSalisburyCSN first.— Todd Zolecki (@ToddZolecki) November 14, 2015
• Braves: "Contrary to the latest round of rumors, I would be shocked if the Braves trade Freddie Freeman." - "Would Braves trade Freeman? No" - Mark Bradley, Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Welcome @SeanNewk to #BravesCountry...he's already got the gear! https://t.co/0IGqH19Luj— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) November 15, 2015
• Mets: "If the Mets are need of assets to deal this offseason for a significant piece for their lineup, they may not have a better one than Zack Wheeler." - "MLB hot stove: Do the Mets want to trade Zack Wheeler (again)?" - Mike Vorkunov, NJ.com
• Marlins: "Gordon, through his Flash of Hope program, is working with children in Miami-Dade County who have lost a parent from domestic abuse, just as he lost his mother 20 years ago." - "Loss of his mother to domestic violence spurred Dee Gordon to comfort others" - Clark Spencer, Miami Herald