Matt Williams, Garvin Alston join D-backs coaching staff
PHOENIX — When Matt Williams was fired as manager of the Washington Nationals last month, a reunion with the club with which he won a World Series and coached four seasons immediately jumped into some minds.
Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale was one such person.
So when Andy Green was named manager of the San Diego Padres in late-October, Hale had an opening on his coaching staff.
"As soon as Andy got the (Padres) job, I knew in my heart Matt was the right guy for this job," Hale said.
Hale reached out to bench coach Glenn Sherlock for his thoughts. Williams already was in touch with Luis Gonzalez, a former teammate, and others within the organization.
Things moved quickly from there, and a year after he was named National League manager of the year, Williams is back as the D-backs’ third-base coach. He and Garvin Alston, as bullpen coach, on Wednesday were formally announced as the latest additions to a coaching staff that will feature at least four new faces next season.
The D-backs also announced hitting coach Turner Ward will not return.
"As soon as Chip got in touch, I was eager and wanted to come aboard. It’s a fantastic group here," said Williams, who had some discussions with other teams but felt most comfortable with the D-backs. "I’m excited. I’m very familiar with the organization, of course."
Williams spent four seasons on the D-backs’ coaching staff, the final three as third-base coach, prior to the Nationals hiring him as manager. He also played for the D-backs for six seasons, including the 2001 World Series champions.
"Matt Williams has been a baseball lifer and brings with him knowledge, intensity and a passion for the game," D-backs general manager Dave Stewart said. "Those attributes are key for the makeup of our coaching staff and team. He has the reputation of being a teacher and hard worker, and we are happy to have him back with the organization."
Williams, 49, was fired by the Nationals after a disappointing, injury-plagued season. After they won 96 games and the NL East title in 2014, the Nationals slipped to 83-79 and failed to return to the playoffs this past season.
"At the end of the day … we didn’t get to the ultimate prize," Williams said of his time in D.C. "That part of it is done and I’m looking forward to being back with the Diamondbacks."
Asked if he felt he got a fair shake at the tail of end of his only major league managing job, Williams said that was "a discussion for another day."
Alston, 43, joins the D-backs after 11 seasons in various roles in the Oakland A’s organization, including minor-league pitching coordinator last season.
Alston interviewed for the team’s pitching coach position earlier this off-season and was surprised to hear from the D-backs again after they hired Mike Butcher for that job.
"I actually didn’t believe it. To be back in the big leagues is great," said Alston, who pitched in the minor leagues for eight seasons and appeared in six games for the Colorado Rockies in 1996.
Alston, who’s lived in the Valley for 17 years and whose son is a pitcher at Arizona State, replaces Mel Stottlemyre Jr., who took a position with the Seattle Mariners.
Ward spent the past three seasons on the D-backs’ coaching staff and was offered a contract for next year. He apparently will pursue another opportunity, though Hale declined to discuss any details. As for who could replace Ward, Hale mentioned assistant hitting coach Mark Grace, Triple-A hitting coach Greg Gross and minor-league hitting coordinator Chris Cron as options. Former Dodgers hitting coach Mark McGwire’s name also came up.
"His name would be at the forefront of any list we’re making for a hitting guys," Hale said. "We’re not that close yet. We’re not going to rush it."