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. He’s always been a players’ guy as a player, and I think he'll continue to be a players’ guy as a manager.’’
Rizzo was a part of the Diamondbacks’ front office when the expansion team entered the majors in 1998. Williams played in Arizona from 1998-2003, part of a 17-year career.
The Nationals will hold a news conference to introduce Williams, who was the third base coach for the Diamondbacks the past three seasons, on Friday. He replaces Davey Johnson, who announced before the season that 2013 would be it for him in the Nationals’ dugout.
Royals pick up Shields’s optionThe Royals exercised their $13.5 million option on righthander James Shields after he anchored one of the league’s best starting rotations.
Shields, acquired last offseason in a trade from Tampa Bay, went 13-9 with a 3.15 ERA and an AL-leading 228⅔ innings. Shields was especially strong after the All-Star break, going 9-3 with a 3.06 ERA.
Kansas City went 43-27 after the break to finish 86-76, its best record since 1989.
‘‘I feel good about it. I feel like I pitched well for them last year,’’ Shields said. ‘‘I’m just excited to be back and be a Royal and have a good season next year.’’
Indians cut ties with PerezThe Indians released closer Chris Perez following a season in which he performed below his All-Star abilities and got arrested for having marijuana mailed to his home. A two-time All-Star, Perez spent five seasons in Cleveland and saved 124 games . . . The Cardinals declined their $9.5 million option for next season on pitcher Jake Westbrook, who was not on their postseason roster after battling elbow and back injuries much of the year. Westbrook went 7-8 with a 4.63 ERA this season . . . The Rangers declined their $12 million contract option for Lance Berkman . The 37-year-old Berkman hit .242 with six home runs and 34 RBIs in 73 games . . . The Rockies declined their half of a mutual option on Rafael Betancourt . Betancourt was 2-5 with a 4.08 ERA and 16 saves for the Rockies before tearing a ligament in his pitching elbow.