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Ex-Giants Williams new Nats skip

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POSTED October 31, 2013 11:49 p.m.

WASHINGTON (AP) — More than a decade ago, when Matt Williams was still a third baseman, and Mike Rizzo was still climbing the front-office rungs, the future general manager thought he noticed the makings of a future skipper.

Well, here they are. Williams will make his debut as a major league manager with the Washington Nationals, a hiring announced by Rizzo on Thursday, one day after the World Series ended.

“Matt played with intensity as a player, but he also was a terrific teammate. You talk to the guys that he played with, and they swear by him. He was always team first, and self second. He was the consummate team player and a great teammate. He was a leader in the clubhouse, by example and also a vocal leader,” Rizzo said.

“As a manager candidate, I feel he has the same fire, same desire, and the same team-first attitude that will be taken well by the players,” Rizzo added.

Rizzo was a part of the Arizona Diamondbacks’ front office when the expansion team entered the majors in 1998, and he became their scouting director two years later along the way to becoming Washington’s GM. Williams played in Arizona from 1998-2003, part of a 17-year career that also included time with the San Francisco Giants and Cleveland Indians.

Williams, a five-time All-Star and a four-time Gold Glove recipient, is the first player mentioned in the Mitchell Report — the accounting of baseball’s Steroids Era that was released in December 2007 — to become a manager in the majors. The San Francisco Chronicle reported in 2007 that records indicated Williams purchased more than $10,000 worth of growth hormone, steroids and other drugs while with the Diamondbacks in 2002.

Williams replaces the retired Davey Johnson, who won the NL Manager of the Year award for leading Washington to a majors-leading 98 wins and the NL East title in 2012, then announced before this season that 2013 would be it for him in the Nationals’ dugout.

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