The Durham Bulls, in conjunction with the Tampa Bay Rays, announce the team's coaching staff for the 2018 season, with manager Jared Sandberg returning for his fourth season at the team's helm. He'll be joined by a trio of newcomers, as Richard Knapp takes over pitching coach duties, and Dan DeMent and Ben Johnson join the staff as coaches.
In the 2017 season, Sandberg piloted the Bulls to the team's second Triple-A National Championship, fifth Governors' Cup and 13th International League South Division title. Durham posted an 86-56 mark in the regular season, fourth-best in franchise history, while going on to post a 7-2 mark in postseason play. The 2018 season marks the Olympia, Wash. native's 10th season as a minor league manager, all coming in the Rays organization at different levels. The former Tampa Bay major leaguer and minor leaguer has compiled a career record of 533-462 (.536), while advancing to the postseason three times and capturing two league championships. Over his first three seasons with the Bulls, the team posted a 224-206 record (.521), while never missing out on the postseason by more than 4.0 games.
Knapp joins the Bulls with a wealth of coaching experience, most notably serving as the Detroit Tigers' pitching coach from 2008 until midway through the 2011 season. In his time with Detroit he worked with three eventual Cy Young Award winners in Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello. The 56-year-old has also served as a minor league pitching coordinator for the Minnesota Twins, Kansas City Royals and Los Angeles Dodgers. The Baltimore native pitched five seasons in the Minor Leagues from 1983 to 1987 in the San Diego Padres and Texas Rangers systems, reaching as high as Triple-A in his final season.
Earning a promotion to Triple-A for the 2018 season is DeMent, who spent the previous two seasons coaching for the Double-A Montgomery Biscuits. The 39-year-old enters his 10th season as a minor league coach, all coming in the Tampa Bay system, and will serve on Sandberg's staff for the third time after coaching together with Rookie-level Princeton in 2009 and Short-Season Hudson Valley in 2012. DeMent played eight seasons of minor league ball, including the first five seasons of his career in the Tampa Bay organization.
Johnson makes his way to Durham after spending the last three seasons as a scout with the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Memphis native spent parts of three major league seasons with the San Diego Padres (2005-2006) and New York Mets (2007), and played through the end of the 2010 season. In 2005 he was named the San Diego Padres Minor League Player of the Year when he batted .312 with 25 home runs.
Returning for his fifth season as Strength and Conditioning Coach is Bryan King. Prior to joining the Rays in 2014, he spent the previous five seasons in the same role at the major league level with the Toronto Blue Jays.
Also new to the Bulls in 2018 is Athletic Trainer Scott Thurston. The Colorado native enters his 11th season in the Tampa Bay system, and spent the 2017 campaign with Double-A Montgomery after spending the previous five years with Advanced-A Charlotte.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.