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San Francisco trip a homecoming for Williams

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SAN DIEGO -- Nationals manager Matt Williams will be returning to San Francisco as his team plays the Giants in a four-games series that starts Monday night at AT&T Park.

Williams once called San Francisco home. He played for the Giants from 1987 to 1996 when the team was playing at Candlestick Park. He has nothing but good things to say about organization. He likes the fact that the Giants have taken care of their current and former players.

After Williams made his big league debut, he learned the game of baseball by being around teachers including Roger Craig, Don Zimmer and Dusty Baker, who became Williams' mentor.

"It was great teaching -- teaching with patience and kindness and the occasional kick in the fanny. They taught me the game and taught me how to play it effectively," Williams said. "I would have loved to be a Giant my whole career, but it didn't happen. The whole organization continues to be nothing but supportive. There is a long history there. It's a fantastic organization. They take care of their Giants and their ex-Giants. Everybody is very supportive."

During the 10 years he played third base for the Giants, Williams hit .264 with 247 home runs, 732 RBIs and made four All-Star appearances before he was dealt to Indians before the 1997 season.

One would think Williams' best season for San Francisco was in 1994. He was on pace to break Roger Maris' home run record, but the strike put an end to the season in August. Williams ended up with 43 home runs and finished second behind Jeff Bagwell in the MVP voting that year.

Talk to Williams about that season, and he'll say he thought he was lucky that he hit that many home runs. He said there wasn't any pressure to break the home run record because the impending strike overshadowed what he was doing on the field.

"The year was interesting because I didn't look at it as a great year," Williams said. "My batting average was .267. I hit some homers, but I didn't hit a lot of doubles, I didn't get a lot of base hits. There was a lot of 1-for-4 , 1-for 5. It just seems as if I hit a ball well, it barely squeaked over the fence or it hit the foul pole instead of going foul. I never got close to 43 homers again. It was just one of those years."

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.

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