The Tampa Bay Rays have named Michael Johns, the 2023 manager for the Durham Bulls, as their First Base Coach for the 2024 season. Johns will be joining Kevin Cash’s staff, who was previously a catcher for the Bulls, one year after Brady Williams, the manager for 2019-22, became the Third Base Coach for Tampa Bay.
During his one season with Durham, Johns guided the Bulls to a record of 88 wins and 62 losses. This impressive performance earned them the title of Second Half International League Division champions and a spot in the International League Championship Series. Their record of 48 wins and 27 losses in the second half of the season was a major contributor to their success. Their total of 88 wins was the second-highest in the International League, only behind Norfolk (90-59), and tied for the fourth-highest among all 120 minor league teams.
Before becoming a member of the Bulls, Johns worked as the Minor League Field Coordinator for the Rays. He spent nine seasons as a manager in the minor leagues, leading teams such as the High-A Charlotte Stone Crabs from 2015-2017, the Low-A Bowling Green Hot Rods in 2014, the Single-A Hudson Valley Renegades in 2013, and the Short-Season Princeton Rays from 2010-2012. His first year with Charlotte resulted in a Florida State League championship in 2015. Throughout these nine seasons, Johns achieved a record of 488 wins and 484 losses.
Johns joins the Tampa Bay Rays coaching staff as the newest member with connections to Durham. He is joined by several others who have also been part of the Durham team, including former catcher Kevin Cash (currently the Manager), manager Brady Williams (First Base Coach from 2019-2022), outfielder Chad Mottola (Hitting Coach from 2003), and pitching coach Rick Knapp (Assistant Pitching and Rehab Coach from 2018-2019). Cash is one of five current Major League managers who have all previously played for the Bulls, along with Brian Snitker (Atlanta), Rocco Baldelli (Minnesota), Matt Quatraro (Kansas City), and Stephen Vogt (Cleveland).
The 2024 season for the Bulls will start with an away game against the Norfolk Tides on Friday, March 29. The team’s first home game at Durham Bulls Athletic Park will take place on Tuesday, April 2 against the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp, the Triple-A team for the Miami Marlins. The series will consist of six games.