SALT LAKE CITY -- The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim director of player development Abe Flores announced Tuesday that Keith Johnson will manage the 2011 Salt Lake Bees, his first stint as a Triple-A manager.
Johnson becomes the franchise's first former player to manage the club. Alongside Johnson, and returning to Salt Lake, will be hitting coach Jim Eppard, pitching coach Erik Bennett, trainer Brian Reinker and strength and conditioning coach Josh Fields."We're pleased to welcome Keith Johnson back to the Bees organization along with Jim, Erik, Brian and Josh," said Bees general manager Marc Amicone. "They're all great ambassadors to the game of baseball and have successful track records in the Angels minor league system. We look forward to the 2011 season."
Johnson enters his first season as manager of the Bees following a two-year managerial stint with Single-A Rancho Cucamonga (2009-10) and one season as manager of Single-A Cedar Rapids (2008). He has compiled a 211-207 (.505) record while also leading his teams into the playoffs all three seasons. He most recently guided the Quakes to the California League Championship Series in 2010. Johnson has also served as hitting coach at three different levels for the Angels (Double-A Arkansas 2006-07, Short-Season Orem 2005 and Mesa of the Arizona League 2004).
The 39-year-old former infielder enjoyed an 11-year professional playing career including stints with the Los Angeles Dodgers (1993-1998, 2001), Arizona Diamondbacks (1999) and Anaheim Angels (2000, 2002-2003). In 1,340 minor league games, he hit .262 with 125 home runs and 640 RBI while making his major league debut with the Angels in 2000.
Johnson spent both the 2002 and 2003 seasons in Salt Lake, totaling a .283 average with 26 home runs and 120 RBI. Originally selected by the Dodgers in the fourth round of the 1992 draft out of University of Pacific, Johnson retired following the 2003 season. He is a native of Hanford, Calif. and currently resides in Park City, with his wife Malena and their four children.
Jim Eppard returns for his ninth season in both the Angels organization and with the Bees in 2011. Under Eppard's direction in 2010, Mark Trumbo tied for the minor league lead in home runs (36) and Peter Bourjos set Pacific Coast League records for hits (56) and runs scored (37) in July.
Erik Bennett, entering his 16th season with the Angels organization, returns to the Bees for a fourth season. Bennett's work with Salt Lake's bullpen led to the advancement of relievers Michael Kohn, Francisco Rodriguez, Jordan Walden to the Angels during the 2010 season to be major league mainstays.
Brian Reinker also returns for his fourth season in Triple-A baseball with the Bees and his ninth in the Angels organization, while Josh Fields returns to Salt Lake and the Angels organization for his second season.