Keith Johnson's favorite task as manager of the Salt Lake Bees was informing players they were being promoted to the Los Angeles Angels. And now it has happened to him.
The Bees have lost their manager with a month remaining in the Pacific Coast League season, the Triple-A team announced Sunday. Johnson, 47, is joining the Angels' coaching staff in his specialty, working with infielders.
Eric Chavez, a 17-year major leaguer (including 13 seasons with Oakland) who has worked as a special assistant to Angels general manager Billy Eppler, will replace Johnson with the Bees. Chavez has never been a coach or manager.
The move comes amid a report from The Athletic that longtime Angels Manager Mike Scioscia would step down after the season. Scioscia told reporters Sunday the news was “poppycock,” saying that “nothing's changed since October” regarding his job status or personal plans.
Yet the new job descriptions for Johnson and Chavez inevitably led to speculation that one of them is being groomed as Scioscia's successor.
Johnson has managed the Bees for most of seven years, in two stints. He spent the 2015 season as roving instructor in the Angels' minor league system.
Coaching third base was one of Johnson's usual duties with the Bees. He occasionally managed from the dugout and had Ray Olmedo coach third, as happened this weekend.
The Bees took a 60-52 record into Sunday’s game at Omaha, trailing El Paso by 2½ games in their division of the PCL. Salt Lake will open a seven-game homestand Thursday vs. Tacoma, with El Paso coming to town for three games beginning Aug. 13. The PCL’s regular season runs through Labor Day, Sept. 3.