Blue Jays promote Dane Johnson to bullpen coach, make other coaching changes
The Toronto Blue Jays were busy during the early stages of the winter break and then became oddly quiet during the holiday period. However, with a new year comes a sense of urgency to get some things done and the Blue Jays are again back in business. Coaching moves have dominated the early days of 2015. First, the extension of John Gibbons’ contract became official upon midnight January 1st. Now, the Blue Jays have announced several changes to the Major and Minor League coaching staffs for the 2015 season.
Via a team press release, the Blue Jays announced on Friday two moves to the Major League staff, including the promotion of Dane Johnson to Bullpen Coach and Eric Owens to Assistant Hitting Coach.
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The role of Bullpen Coach has been somewhat in flux under manager John Gibbons. When Gibby first took back the chair, Pat Hentgen returned to the bullpen role with the club, a position he had also held during the 2011 season and helped fashion the Blue Jays bullpen into one of the best in the game. However, family health matters resulted in Hentgen being reassigned prior to the 2014 season and Bob Stanley took over. Under Stanley, the Jays bullpen fell all the way to 25th in baseball (per relief ERA) and the team parted ways with Stanley earlier this winter.
That’s where Dane Johnson steps in. Per the press release, Johnson has been with the team since the 2000 season and has played the part of Minor League Pitching Coordinator over the last 11 seasons, where he’s helped with the development of many of the team’s top prospects, including Aaron Sanchez, Marcus Stroman, and Daniel Norris among others.
As a player, Johnson received only 63 appearances at the Major League level, posting a 6-2 record, a 4.70 ERA, and a 1.21 K/BB ratio while seeing time with Toronto, Chicago White Sox, and Oakland Athletics. He also spent time with the Milwaukee Brewers and then Florida Marlins organizations over the course of a 13-year professional career.
Also receive the call-up to the big club is new Assistant Hitting Coach Eric Owens, who will join new Hitting Coach Brook Jacoby. Owens comes to the Blue Jays organization via the Los Angeles Dodgers, where he has spent the last four years as the Minor League Hitting Coordinator, per the press release. A journeyman outfielder during his playing days, Owens owns a career .264/.318/.347 slash line over 9 MLB seasons with the Cincinnati Reds, Milwaukee Brewers, San Diego Padres, Florida Marlins, and Anaheim Angels.
The always fun Sal Fasano is also being moved within the organization again. Previously the manager at Double-A New Hampshire, the man with the best Fu Manchu in baseball will move from Roving Catching Instructor to take Johnson’s old role as Minor League Pitching Coordinator. Darold Knowles will take over the role of Rehabilitation Pitching Coach, and Rick Langford will become Senior Pitching Advisor.