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Williams has fond memories of time with D-backs

PHOENIX -- Nationals manager Matt Williams returned to Chase Field on Monday, the place where he spent 13 years as a player, coach and broadcaster for the D-backs. He said playing the first Major League game in Arizona, and then defeating the Yankees in the 2001 World Series were his best moments with the D-backs.

Williams managed his first game at Chase Field on Monday, and he was looking forward to facing D-backs manager Kurt Gibson during the three-game series.

"I haven't seen him yet, but I've talked to him on the phone," Gibson said pregame. "We text back and forth occasionally. He wants to win, and I want to beat his [butt], too, so that's mutual. He does it right, you know that. We have a lot in common, just the way we were brought up. We talked a lot when I was here and he was here. It will be interesting to see what changes he's made in his philosophies."

Williams returned the compliment, and hoped his team could get back on track after getting swept in Oakland by the Athletics.

"I think I'll take a piece of his book today. A little birdie told me he said something to the effect of, 'I want to win, but he wants to beat my [butt]," Williams joked. "We want to win. That's why we are here, to beat those guys, and hopefully we can do that."

Williams had nothing but good things to say about the D-backs organization. He said his career in Arizona ended on a good note. He said the front office and Gibson supported him when he decided to leave the organization and take the job as manager of the Nationals.

"Through the whole process, it was nothing but supportive -- in every aspect," Williams said. "Gibby was supportive, [executive vice president and general manager] Kevin [Towers] was supportive, [president and CEO] Derrick Hall, [managing general partner] Ken Kendrick were very supportive of my desire to do this. If that opportunity came with another organization, they were behind it. It's refreshing, because they want success for folks."

Entering Monday's action, the Nationals were 19-18, 2 1/2 games behind the Braves. Williams acknowledged the last month and half have been interesting. Since Opening Day, the Nationals have lost five major players -- Bryce Harper, Adam LaRoche, Ryan Zimmerman, Wilson Ramos and Doug Fister -- to injuries, with Ramos and Fister returning to the field recently. The defense has been the worst in the National League. Williams also said talking to the media on a daily basis in different.

"That's all part of it. I understand that going in, but once you are faced with it every day, it's an adjustment period," Williams said. "I'm enjoying it. I'm having fun."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats.
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