Mason Williams gave RailRiders fans a quick reminder of what he can do in Louisville’s first game against SWB this series. In the sixth inning, the former Yankees top prospect ran down a tailing line drive off Bruce Caldwell’s bat, using a full-extension dive in the left-center gap to save a run from scoring. Williams made it look routine, just as the countless plays like it he made while roaming the PNC Field outfield for three seasons. After eight seasons in New York’s organization, Williams signed with the Cincinnati Reds this offseason. Here, he talks about the decision to leave the Yankees, why he was drawn to the Reds and still beating up on the RailRiders’ rival, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs.
How tough was it to leave this organization? It was definitely hard. I had a lot of good memories here, I had a lot of good friends here and especially my coaches. I was obviously here for eight years, so that’s definitely a long time. That’s a long time to be in a friendship and a bond with a lot of people. But it was great. I feel like I learned the game the right way and I feel like I was taught how to play the game the right way.
Did you hit a point where you realize it might not happen with the Yankees? No, not really, because I didn’t think that. I just wanted to get back in the big leagues. I just wanted to go to a team where, personally, I thought I had a good chance to make the club out of spring training or if not, get back up there soon. So, that’s why I made the decision.
How are you liking the Reds? Oh, it’s great. It’s going well for me. I feel like, obviously right now, the Bats, we’re not playing as well as we should right now. But it’s obviously a long season. We’ve been playing well as of late, but I definitely like the Reds organization.
What was it about the Reds that drew you to them? Just the opportunity. Opportunity to, like I said, make the team out of spring training. Things happen for a reason. Sometimes, it’s good to have a little change of scenery, so that’s what I wanted.
Have the Reds tried to change anything about your game? No. They’ve seen me play a lot throughout the years. Scranton, we did go to Louisville a few times and play there. So, no they haven’t really changed anything. They told me to be myself and obviously (keep) working hard and good things will happen.
You guys went to Lehigh Valley earlier this season and you did really well against them, again (4-11, 2B, HR). So, I guess that’s not going to leave you. That’s not going to leave me. Obviously, I’m with a new team, but the game is the same between the lines. That’s really the bottom line. The game’s the same and I’ve still got to play my game and play hard.
From afar, it looked like you tried to build a relationship with (Reds top prospect) Nick Senzel pretty early in the season. Did you think it was important to be a leader for this team? I would never call myself much of a vocal leader. I kind of would like to lead with example. Nick’s one of the better players I’ve played with in a long time. His future’s going to be extremely bright. But we’re all here right now, we’re just working hard, just trying to compete. Work hard and get better and grow as players and as people. And get to the next level.
Do you still keep an eye on the guys in New York? I wouldn’t really say keep an eye on, because I know all those guys are extremely talented and they’re going to play well. But there’s more to life than baseball. So, I’d rather call them and see them and maybe grab lunch or grab dinner and even maybe go golfing in the offseason or something like that, rather than always talking about baseball.
Times-Tribune file photos