Luke Williams had no expectations to be in the starting lineup last week for Team USA, let alone be the leadoff hitter for a team of major-league veterans trying to qualify for the Summer Olympics.© JOSE F. MORENO / Staff Photograp Luke Williams during a game against the Atlanta Braves at Citizens Bank on Thursday.
He left triple A with the assumption that he would be a bench player, perhaps getting a few chances against left-handed pitchers. And Mike Scioscia — the Delaware County native who managed the Angels to a World Series title in 2002 — wasn’t planning to start his Team USA lineup with Williams at the top.
But those plans had to change after the U.S. manager hit Williams leadoff in the opener against a left-hander and Williams reached base five times.
“There was no looking back after that,” Scioscia said by phone Friday.
Williams was Team USA’s leading hitter as they won all four games to secure one of the final spots in the Olympics. He returned home last Sunday and the Phillies called him Monday to the majors, which takes him off the Olympic roster.
But that’s OK because two days later, Williams’ first major-league start ended with a game-winning homer. It was a whirlwind week and Scioscia — who played 13 seasons in the majors before managing the Angels for 19 years — expects Williams to be more than just a good story.
“Luke is a terrific kid, first of all and most importantly,” Scioscia said. “But he’s also going to have a terrific career. He’s a high-level player, and one of the things that’s going to be attractive in his career is the fact that you can start him really at six positions and you’re not going to lose anything defensively. He’s good at all of them.”
He sent a note last week to Joe Girardi, telling the Phillies manager that Williams does everything right. Williams’ versatility, Girardi said, makes him a “Mike Scioscia type of player.”
Williams played everywhere in the minors expect pitcher and catcher, but don’t label him a utility player. Instead, Scioscia said, call him versatile.
“There’s a difference between being a utility player and being versatile,” he said. “Luke is versatile. I think he’s going to be an everyday player, but you might see him play five different positions in a season. Or six, even. He has that kind of versatility.”Rookie Luke Williams homers in ninth as Phillies beat the Braves
The Phillies started Williams in center field Wednesday and at third base Thursday, providing an indication of how they plan to move the 24-year-old around the diamond. Williams brought eight gloves with him to Philadelphia and said he loves the role he hass played since being drafted in the third round in 2015.© STEVEN M. FALK / Staff Photograp The Phillies' Luke Williams after his game-winning two-run homer against the Braves on Wednesday.
It reminds Scioscia of how the Angels used Chone Figgins, who was a rookie on his 2002 World Series champions and carved a role in the big leagues by playing wherever the manager needed him.
Figgins started at six positions in 2004 while also hitting .296 and receiving MVP votes. He hit .291 in eight seasons with Scioscia, giving the Angels the type of production the Phillies would love to have from Williams.
“Chone showed the same make-up that Luke has. He’s a baseball player. He loves the game,” Scioscia said. “He would work out at every position. He was signed as a natural shortstop. He’s like an uber-athlete. He was just so athletic and I see a lot of that in Luke. We moved Chone around a little but then it really came to where we needed a third baseman and Chone settled into being our everyday third baseman. He played terrific baseball for us.”
Scioscia has lived in Southern California for more than 40 years, but Delaware County is still in his heart. He was born in Upper Darby and went to Springfield High School. He’s a diehard Eagles fan and knows what Philadelphia expects from its athletes.Luke Williams’ family is sharing in the rise of their Phillies’ overnight sensation
A few weeks with Williams was enough for Scioscia to know that the 24-year-old from Orange County, Calif., has what it takes to play in South Philadelphia.
“I think fans all around the country in any city have an expectation for what they expect to see in a baseball player. I think Luke has it,” Scioscia said. “I think he’s going to do everything he can do in any given day to contribute to what you hope is a winning game. On the base paths, in the batter’s box, he’s multi-dimensional. He’s already had a walk-off homer and a bunt hit, so you can see that he can do a variety of things.
“I just think there’s an intensity in the fans who come to see a game in Philadelphia and I think you have to embrace it and understand that it’s still a baseball game. Go out there and help your team win.”
Scioscia will travel next month to Japan as the manager of one of the six teams in the first Olympic baseball tournament since 2008. He’s back in the dugout for the first time since he left the Angels after the 2018 season.
Last week reminded him just how much fun it is to be in the dugout and pull the strings of the game. It was rewarding, Scioscia said, to see his players perform the way they did. He hopes they carry that with them to Tokyo.
First, he has to find someone else to bat leadoff.
“We’ll find a leadoff hitter, but we’re thrilled that Luke is in the major leagues,” Scioscia said. “We just couldn’t be happier for him to see how his first couple games in the majors leagues went. It’s just incredible.”
Source : https://www.msn.com/en-us/sports/mlb/mike-scioscia-says-phillies-rookie-luke-williams-is-an-everyday-player-and-can-handle-philadelphia-matt-breen/ar-AAKYILE1368