Matt Williams hired to lead Nationals
• More than a decade ago, when Matt Williams was still a third baseman, and Mike Rizzo was still climbing the front-office rungs, the future general manager thought he noticed the makings of a future skipper.
Well, here they are. Williams, a former third baseman with the Indians, will make his debut as a major-league manager with the Washington Nationals, a hiring announced by Rizzo on Thursday, one day after the World Series ended.
“Matt played with intensity as a player, but he also was a terrific teammate. You talk to the guys that he played with, and they swear by him. He was always team first, and self second. He was the consummate team player and a great teammate,” Rizzo said.
Williams played in Arizona from 1998-2003, part of a 17-year career that also included time with the San Francisco Giants and Cleveland Indians.
Williams, a five-time All-Star and a four-time Gold Glove recipient, is the first player mentioned in the Mitchell Report — the accounting of baseball’s Steroids Era that was released in December 2007 — to become a manager in the majors. The San Francisco Chronicle reported in 2007 that records indicated Williams purchased more than $10,000 worth of growth hormone, steroids and other drugs while with the Diamondbacks in 2002.
• San Diego Padres bench coach Rick Renteria has interviewed for the Detroit Tigers’ manager’s job.
• The St. Louis Cardinals declined their $9.5 million option for next season on pitcher Jake Westbrook, who was not on their postseason roster after battling elbow and back injuries much of the year. The 36-year-old ex-Indians ace was 7-8 with a 4.63 ERA. He gets a $1 million buyout.
• The Kansas City Royals exercised their $13.5 million option on right-hander James Shields after he anchored one of the league’s best starting rotations last season. Shields, acquired last offseason in a trade from Tampa Bay, went 13-9 with a 3.15 ERA.
• The Chicago White Sox exercised a club option for next season on reliever Matt Lindstrom and hired Todd Steverson as hitting coach. Lindstrom will get a base salary of $4 million.
• The Texas Rangers declined their $12 million contract option for Lance Berkman, making the 37-year-old switch-hitter a free agent. Berkman gets a $1 million buyout.
• The Colorado Rockies declined their half of a mutual option on Rafael Betancourt, making the right-handed reliever who’s coming off an arm injury a free agent. Betancourt, a former Indians reliever, was 2-5 with a 4.08 ERA and 16 saves for the Rockies last season before tearing a ligament in his pitching elbow.
• The Los Angeles Dodgers have declined to exercise their 2014 options on infielder Mark Ellis and pitcher Chris Capuano, making both free agents.
• Former All-Star third baseman Kevin Seitzer was hired as hitting coach of the Toronto Blue Jays. Seitzer replaces Chad Mottola.
Crew midfielder Gaven set to retire
• The Columbus Crew has announced that midfielder Eddie Gaven is retiring after 11 seasons in Major League Soccer. The 27-year-old concludes a career that includes 278 appearances, 51 goals and 37 assists in MLS regular-season competition.
• D.C. United has declined its contract option on midfielder Dwayne De Rosario, two years after he was the leading scorer and MVP of Major League Soccer.
Senior shoots 63 to lead final event
• Australia’s Peter Senior shot an 8-under 63 on Thursday to take a 1-stroke lead in the Champions Tour’s season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship in San Francisco. Senior had nine birdies, an eagle and three bogeys at TPC Harding Park. David Frost shot 64, missing a short putt on the 18th hole.
• Richard Gasquet and Stanislas Wawrinka took the last two spots for the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals after Milos Raonic lost to Tomas Berdych 7-6 (13), 6-4 in the third round of the Paris Masters in Paris.
• Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith has shot down rumors that he is interviewing for the vacant University of Texas athletic director position.
• NASCAR indefinitely suspended Richard Childress Racing crew member Adam Brown for throwing a hammer at driver Kevin Harvick’s truck during a race at Martinsville Speedway.
• Florida coach Billy Donovan announced the suspension of big men Dorian Finney-Smith and Damontre Harris, meaning the Gators will be down at least four guys to start the season.
• The Colorado Avalanche swapped veteran forwards with Philadelphia, sending Steve Downie to the Flyers in exchange for Maxime Talbot.
— From wire reports