Nationals officially name Matt Williams manager

Washington, DC ( - Matt Williams officially became the new manager of the Washington Nationals on Thursday.

The Nationals gave Williams a multi-year contract.

A five-time All-Star and former Arizona Diamondbacks coach, Williams replaces Davey Johnson, who retired following the 2013 season.

"I am thrilled to welcome Matt to our organization and am confident he is the best choice to lead the Nationals at this time," Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said. "He is exceptionally prepared for the task. Matt came into the interview process already possessing an extensive knowledge of our organization: our roster, our Minor League system -- and our fan base.

"He has genuinely creative, unique ideas on how to increase performance, and on cultivating leadership and team unity."

Williams, who played 17 seasons as a third baseman with San Francisco, Cleveland and Arizona, spent the past four years as a coach with the Diamondbacks, the last three as their third base coach.

His lone managing experience came with Salt River in the Arizona Fall League last year.

However, Williams does have a working relationship with Rizzo. Rizzo was Arizona's scouting director when Williams was playing for the club.

"I saw first-hand the leadership qualities he possessed as a player, on the field and in the clubhouse," said Rizzo. "He's been someone on my radar as a potential manager for years.

"Matt was a great player, but he also understands just how much hard work goes into becoming a great player. In the second phase of his baseball life, he has channeled the intensity he had as a player into becoming an intellectual coach with a calm, confident demeanor."

Williams won a World Series title with the Diamondbacks in 2001, then wrapped up his career two years later. He was a career .268 hitter with 378 homers and 1,218 runs batted in over 1,866 games.

A four-time Gold Glove winner, Williams led the NL in home runs with 43 during the strike-shortened 1994 season and four times drove in more than 100 runs.

Williams was a member of San Francisco's 1989 NL championship team and also played for Cleveland's 1997 AL title squad in his lone season with the Indians.

The 47-year-old was also named in the Mitchell Report on performance- enhancing drugs in baseball. He told the San Francisco Chronicle that he tried human growth hormone in an attempt to recover from an ankle injury.