Oct 5, 2015, 2:40 PM EDT
Early Monday afternoon, after he had made official one of the most difficult decisions of his entire tenure in Washington, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo addressed reporters over the phone to explain exactly why he had fired Matt Williams – the man he handpicked just two years prior – as manager.
Rizzo, who met with Williams in his office early Monday morning, first expressed how hard it was to make the decision.
“It is really a tough day here at Nationals Park, a tough day for me personally, and a tough day for our entire organization. But these are the first of the decisions that we felt we needed to make as we meticulously evaluate why the 2015 season didn’t go the way we had hoped,” he said.
“It was face-to-face, man-to-man in his office early this morning. Matt took it as a professional. He was very thankful of the opportunity to manage this baseball team. He also was thankful for me in showing the faith in him to give him his first managerial job. He’s obviously very, very disappointed in the result and the outcome of this year. It was a very serious discussion, but a very professional result happened.”
Rizzo hired Williams to coach a team with World Series aspirations before the 2014 season, despite the fact Williams had never previously managed at the big league level. Williams won the NL manager of the year award in 2014, only to see his team fall far short of expectations and miss the playoffs in 2015.
Despite their parting, Rizzo wishes Williams the best moving forward.
“I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank Matt Williams for the work he had done here. He worked extremely hard and diligently to try and bring a championship to Washington, D.C. I share greatly in his disappointment that his tenure here did not end in the way that we wanted it to. I truly think that the experience he gained here will serve him well as his career continues,” Rizzo said.
Rizzo noted Williams’ work ethic, how he was the first person to arrive at the ballpark every day and often the last to leave. Rizzo also said there was no single incident that was seen as a tipping point for his firing, that the decision was based on his full two seasons on the job.
Now Rizzo will have to find Williams’ replacement, just as he did two years ago when Davey Johnson left the position. That process, Rizzo said, will begin Monday afternoon. It will likely take several weeks to be completed.
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