Williams happy to be back 'home' with D-backs

Club's new third-base coach sits down for holiday Q&A with MLB.com

Williams happy to be back 'home' with D-backs

PHOENIX -- After two seasons as manager of the Nationals, Matt Williams is back home in Arizona, where he will coach third base for the D-backs in 2016.

Williams would have naturally preferred a longer stint in Washington, but after being dismissed in October following two seasons at the helm, he was thrilled to get the opportunity to return to the D-backs.

Williams played for the D-backs from 1998-2003, but his connections run deeper than that. He also at one time held a small ownership stake, broadcasted games, managed in the Minor Leagues and served on the big league coaching staff.

When third-base coach Andy Green left Arizona to take over as Padres manager, the D-backs brought Williams back into the fold.

That gives him and his wife Erika plenty to celebrate this holiday season. The couple will spend the holidays at their Paradise Valley home with their youngest daughter, Madison, and three older children, Alysha, Rachel and Jacob.

Recently, Williams chatted with MLB.com about the upcoming holidays.

MLB.com: Since being hired by the D-backs, you've spoken a lot about how thankful you are to be back in Arizona.

Williams: I really enjoyed the opportunity presented to me in Washington, but this has been home to me for almost 30 years. We make our home here, Madison goes to school here. It will be nice to sleep in my own bed during the season. Everybody seems to come to our house for the holidays and it's a great gathering of family. It's fun to be home again.

MLB.com: So you're going to have a big crew next week?

Williams: We're going to have Erika's mom, maybe her sister and brother-in-law and all the older kids are coming in, so it will be a full house. On any given day we're going to have 10 or 12 people. It's going to be fun. It's good, I get a chance to cook and help out in the kitchen.

MLB.com: Wait, you cook? I didn't know you cooked.

Williams: Well, I'm a sous chef for Erika so I chop and try not to burn the bread and do what she tells me to do, and it always seems to work out well. As long as I just do as she tells me to do, it works out just fine.

MLB.com: How old is Madison now?

Williams: She's 11, going to be 12 in January. Hard to believe.

MLB.com: Do you guys open your gifts on Christmas morning or Christmas Eve?

Williams: We look at it like dinner. So if you go to a restaurant, there are appetizers on the menu. So Christmas Eve we open one present and that's the appetizer, and then the rest of the presents get opened on Christmas morning. It's not as early as it used to be, by the way. You know when you have a 12-year-old, she tends to sleep in a little bit longer now. So it's not 5 a.m. coming in to wake everybody up. We get a little bit of a break sleeping in, too, so it's more like 8 a.m., so it's good.

MLB.com: Who is the gift buyer, you or Erika?

Williams: Oh, Erika is. There's tons of research done. She's a journalist, so given her background it's important for her to do research. So I'll have an idea and say, "I'm going to go down to the mall." And she'll say, "Well, let me research it and we'll look for best product, best price." And she'll pull up any of the deals that are out there, what the reviews are of it and ultimately it turns out that I'm wrong. All the time (laughs). Her patience is much better than mind. That's for sure. She is the gift buyer and the ultimate decision-maker.

MLB.com: What is your all-time favorite Christmas gift?

Williams: My all-time favorite was not a gift that I received, but one that I gave. With Erika's love of food and cooking, two years ago I bought her a set of knives, professional knives that were stenciled. That's my favorite, because they mean a lot to her, she uses them every single day. They also come in handy in my chopping endeavors as sous chef.

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.