by Chris Lingebach

WASHINGTON — The Washington Nationals have fired Matt Williams and his coaching staff, prompting the necessary question of who will be hired to manage the club next.

Mike Rizzo, Nationals General Manager and President of Baseball Operations, stressed in a conference call Monday the need to interview candidates with a “diverse background” while mentioning “experience” several times.

“We’re going to bring in a group of people with diverse backgrounds, diverse experiences and diverse skills sets,” he said. “I think that’s something that we did not do last time. Last time we brought in managing candidates with little or no managerial experience.

Williams had little managerial experience when he was hired as Nationals manager in 2013. He had managed in the Arizona Fall League, prior to which he served as first and third base coach for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

“I think that we’ll have a great pool of manager candidates this year,” Rizzo said. “Stemming from very experienced to limited experience, and really go through a process that gets to know the manager personally, first, and then professionally, and what he does on the field.”

The Nationals’ search for their next manager begins immediately. The list of available candidates is vast.

“We’re going to really dive into the manager pool and the candidates of our new manager immediately,” Rizzo said. “We’re going to let those details come out as we see fit. We don’t see any reason right now to give out a litany of Major League managing candidates.”

Will they turn to another first-time manager, like Dave Martinez, currently the bench coach for the Chicago Cubs and also a former player?

Available candidates could include retreads, like possibly Ron Gardenhire, who managed the Minnesota Twins to six division titles in 13 seasons, or Bud Black who, despite never winning a division title in eight-plus seasons in San Diego, has a “deep understanding of pitching and an ability to relate to his players,” according to The Washington Post’s Barry Svrluga.

Perhaps current Angels manager Mike Scioscia — who led his club to a World Series title in 2002 — is in play, as well. He would have to exercise an opt-out clause in his contract, though he is not commenting on the matter at this time.

Randy Knorr, had he not been a part of Monday’s coaching purge, would have seemed a likely candidate. The former bench coach was a player favorite during Washington’s managerial search two years ago. He may not be out of the mix just yet, though.

“Randy’s been a source for this organization for many, many years,” Rizzo said on Monday. “He’s managed in the minor leagues. He’s got a great rapport, not only with the front office, but with a lot of the players in the clubhouse, and would be a great candidate for anybody’s managerial job, including our own.”

Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, Jr. said in August he personally had “serious discussions” with the Nationals about the 2013 vacancy. At his charity event last week, Ripken was asked, jokingly, by Kevin McCarthy of WTTG if he would consider the position for a “$300 million, 15-year contract.”

“I’m not good in dealing in hypotheticals,” Ripken said. “So I guess I’d have a comment when something becomes real.”

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