SALT LAKE CITY — One day after clinching the Pacific Northern Division, the Salt Lake Bees found out Friday that manager Keith Johnson had been named the Pacific Coast League Manager of the Year.
This year's division title is the organization’s first since 2008, while Johnson is the first manager from Salt Lake to get the league nod since 2000 when Phil Roof managed the Buzz.
“It’s an individual award, but it’s way more than that,” said Johnson. “The players had to go out and perform and do things we needed to do to win ballgames. The coaches coached them up really well and I was fortunate enough that the managers (and media) thought enough of me.
“As far as the team, I can’t say enough about how these guys play and put one game behind them and move on to the next day.”
Amid the celebrations, the Bees fell 5-4 to Reno on Friday night.
Salt Lake starter Matt Shoemaker, who was making his league-high 29th start, left the Bees with a 4-2 lead after six innings. But Salt Lake’s bullpen couldn’t hang on as the Aces rallied for three unanswered runs to grab the 5-4 win. Shoemaker (11-13) finished with the no decision, while Jason Urqiudez recorded the loss. Drew Heid finished with a pair of RBIs for Salt Lake.
Friday’s loss drops Salt Lake to 78-63 on the year, with the team back in action Saturday against Reno with a 6:35 p.m. start time.
Meanwhile, the clubhouse and management had nothing but good things to say about their third-year coach.
“It’s well-deserved,” Bees general manager Marc Amicone said of the award his team's manager won. “KJ’s (Johnson) done a great job with a lot of player movement. He’s a great guy to work with and he really is always looking at how to help the players get better whether they are here for a while or moving around in the system.”
On the season, the Bees have had a total of 60 different players appear in at least one game, including 33 different pitchers.
“KJ’s a really humble guy, but he’s earned this honor and I know the award is really about this season. But to our organization it’s a culmination of what he’s done over the past three seasons,” said Amicone.
With Friday’s attendance of 10,471, Salt Lake surpassed the 500,000 season fan mark for the third time in the last four years.