Cardinals set to hire Ben Johnson as Memphis manager

By Rob Rains

The Cardinals are going outside their organization to hire their new manager for Triple A Memphis, has learned.

The hiring has not been announced or confirmed by either the Cardinals front office or that of the Memphis Redbirds, but sources told on Wednesday the job will be filled by Ben Johnson, a former Cardinals’ minor-league player who spent last season as a coach for the Durham Bulls, the Triple A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays.

Johnson, 37, will replace Stubby Clapp, who managed the Redbirds to back-to-back PCL championships the last two seasons before being promoted to the major-league coaching staff, where he will serve as the Cardinals’ first-base coach next season.

Like Clapp, Johnson is a native of the Memphis area and is a graduate of Germantown, Tenn., High School.

Johnson was selected in the fourth round of the 1999 draft by the Cardinals out of high school, but the outfielder was only in the organization for a little more than a year before he was traded to the Padres in a deal for catcher Carlos Hernandez in 2000.

Johnson ended up playing in the majors for the Padres for parts of three seasons, between 2005 and 2007, appearing in a total of 98 games. He spent 10 years playing in the minor leagues.

After his playing career ended, Johnson spent three years as a scout for the Arizona Diamondbacks before becoming a coach in Durham.

The Cardinals also are searching for a new manager for Double A Springfield. Johnny Rodriguez, the manager the last two seasons, is moving to another role in the organization.

It is likely the Cardinals are waiting to make the announcement of Johnson’s hiring until they also are ready to name the Springfield manager and the rest of the minor-league staff for next season.

Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains

(photo courtesy of Brian Fleming Bulls)


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