Washington Nationals manager Matt Williams walks on the field in between interviews at the team's spring training baseball facility, Thursday, Feb. 19, 2015, in Viera, Fla. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
David Goldman
February 21, 2015

VIERA, Fla. (AP) No surprise, the Washington Nationals want manager Matt Williams to stick around in their dugout.

As Nationals pitchers and catchers went through their first official workout of spring training, the team announced Saturday that it had exercised the 2016 option on Williams' contract.

''I'm excited to be part of the organization and the fact that it got picked up,'' Williams said. ''I'm honored to have that done. The organization is fantastic. They've supported all of us since the day I arrived here.''

As a rookie manager last year, Williams guided the Nationals to the NL East title and a league-best 96 victories. Washington lost in the Division Series to San Francisco.

Williams was chosen as the NL Manager of the Year. The former All-Star third baseman became the fourth manager to win the award in his first season, and the first to do it since Joe Girardi with the Marlins in 2006.

''We want him to be around,'' Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said. ''He's a good manager and gives us some stability and (it) shows how much we think he's capable of leading us to where we want to go.''

''It's always good to know the manager's going to be around for a while. He's certainly earned that right,'' he said.

The Nationals are regarded among the favorites to win the World Series this season, having boosted their rotation by adding former AL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer.

''Matt's accomplishments on the field speak for themselves,'' Nationals owner Ted Lerner said in a statement. ''We are fortunate to have Matt as our manager and look forward to him leading us to new heights.''

Rizzo said the biggest growth Williams showed last season was in his knowledge of the strengths and deficiencies of his players.

''I think that's the biggest part that a manager has,'' Rizzo said. ''He can listen to coaches who have been around these players and know the players very well.''

''But when you start acting on your own gut and your own instincts, I think that's when he really turned the corner and became a guy that was very assured of himself and comfortable in making those decisions,'' he said.

Catcher Wilson Ramos was glad to hear about the contract move.

''He's a really good manager,'' Ramos said. ''I feel comfortable with him. We've got a pretty good relationship. It's good for him to be with us.''

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