PHOENIX -- It has been reported that D-backs third-base coach Matt Williams is a leading candidate to manage the Nationals next year after Davey Johnson's retirement.
Williams declined to comment about his status as a future manager, but he said through a spokesman, "I respectfully decline commenting on the Nationals' managerial opening. [I want to] remain focused on my duties as the D-backs' third-base coach for our remaining games and out of respect for the Nationals."
Williams already has the respect of Nationals second baseman Anthony Rendon, who played for Williams with the Salt River Rafters in the Arizona Fall League. The Rafters lost in the finals last year. Rendon, who played third base for the Rafters, said he enjoyed playing for Williams.
"He is a great manager, from what I saw. He's more of a players' guy," Rendon said. "At the same time, he knows when to get on people. He doesn't raise his voice, but he gets his point through.
"I think he was more of a hands-on guy. It wasn't too long ago that he was [playing]. He gave us a feel on what to anticipate, what to expect while we are playing out there. That's what I really enjoyed about it."
D-backs manager Kirk Gibson believes Williams is ready to become a manager. Together, they won a National League West title in 2011.
"He's prepared, he was obviously a good player, we've worked closely together since I've been the manager," Gibson said. "He's got a good mind for it. I know he managed in the Fall League last year. He was very good at that as well. I know he had one interview with Colorado last year, and hopefully he'll get an opportunity to represent his thoughts and his plan this offseason. It's kind of a progression, and he's got to prepare himself for the possibility that he may get a job somewhere and he's done that."
In the 1990s, Williams was one of the better third basemen in the Major Leagues. He hit 30 or more home runs in six seasons, won four Gold Glove Awards and made the All-Star team five times. Williams has played in three World Series and helped the D-backs win the title in 2001.
Gio's Sunday status tied to Johnson's record
PHOENIX -- There is still a question whether Gio Gonzalez will pitch the season finale on Sunday against the D-backs, but manager Davey Johnson made it known that he would like to see Gonzalez on the hill.
On Wednesday, Johnson said he wanted Gonzalez to reach 200 innings and 200 strikeouts. On Friday, however, Johnson said he wanted Gonzalez to pitch because he wanted to finish the season on a winning note and wants his managerial record to remain 300 games over .500. Johnson's record is 1370 -1070 entering Friday night's game. Johnson is retiring as manager of the Nationals after Sunday's game.
If the Nationals win the first two games against the D-backs, then Gonzalez most likely will not pitch in the finale, because Johnson's record would be secure. If Gonzalez doesn't go Sunday, Tanner Roark will likely make the start.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.