‘Familiar Feel’ For Keith Johnson As Salt Lake Bees Manager Entering 2023

Mar 27, 2023, 8:30 AM | Updated: 11:39 am

SALT LAKE CITY – In his third go-around as the manager of the Salt Lake Bees, it’s easy to forget the fact that Keith Johnson played 215 games with Salt Lake before ever taking over as manager.

Those 215 games represent the fifth-most played at third base in franchise history.

“I’m excited about the season, excited about being back in Salt Lake,” Johnson said on the first episode of The Salt Lake Bees Podcast.

“The organization is getting back to some things that the fans are going to enjoy seeing. We’re trying to win a lot more ballgames, and do it in a way that’s exciting and aggressive.”

RELATED: Legendary Salt Lake Bees Announcer Steve Klauke Announces Retirement

After finishing his playing career with Salt Lake following the 2003 season, Johnson entered the coaching ranks, cutting his teeth in the ‘bus leagues’ of minor league baseball before taking over as manager of the Bees in 2011.

Between 2011 and 2018, Johnson amassed a 468-512 won/lost record in two stints as the Bees manager, sandwiched around jobs with the big-league Los Angeles Angels

Following the 2018 season, Johnson joined the Miami Marlins organization. He spent the 2021 & 2022 seasons as the Marlins first base coach, working under manager Don Mattingly.

RELATED: Nostalgia Floods Utah Sports World With Bees Move, Delta Center Return 

“Miami, it was awesome. It was a great experience. We were second in the National League and fourth MLB in stolen bases two years ago. Last year, we were second in all of MLB, and first in the National League in stolen bases. We had some really good pitching, and you play some defense and run the bases. You play the game the right way, you can win some ballgames.”

The Salt Lake Bees In 2023

With Opening Day 10 days away, it’s impossible to know the final makeup of the roster that will occupy the first base dugout at Smith’s Ballpark when the Bees host the Sacramento River Cats on March 31.

“It’s a very familiar feel from everything that we’ve had so far. We have all the conversations with the players all off-season. That way, when these guys come into camp, they know the expectation, they know the standards, and they live up to it.”

Johnson believes his experience in the big leagues as a player and coach can help get players ready for the highest level of baseball.

“Understanding what it takes being a player and how big that gap has gotten (from Triple-A to MLB). Being back here after being in the big leagues for the last two years, just understanding how important the routine of your daily work is. From the time players get to the ballpark, how they recover, trying to make sure these guys understand where they can slow the game down. At the end of the day, up there, things are going to speed up a little bit.”

RELATED: Familiar Face Set To Manage Salt Lake Bees In 2023

Salt Lake is scheduled to open the 2023 season on Friday, March 31. The Bees welcome in the Sacramento River Cats for a three-game series to begin their 30th season of play.

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‘Familiar Feel’ For Keith Johnson As Salt Lake Bees Manager Entering 2023