R.J.’S MANAGING OK

     I am always happy to see former PawSox people around the league, but never happier than when I see Norfolk manager, Ron Johnson.  R.J. managed the PawSox for 5 seasons (2005-2009) before serving as the Red Sox’ first base coach for two seasons.  In the aftermath of the September swoon, RJ was among the casualties.  It wasn’t fun.  “It was tough, but looking back on it, that’s baseball.  Looking back on my twelve years in the “Nation”- it was fantastic.  Looking at the experiences I gained, I don’t think you can put a price on them.  Going through that, and the season being a ‘whiplash’ season, I know those experiences are going to help me get to my ultimate goal, which is managing in the Big Leagues.”

     RJ landed on his feet.  He was hired to work with the Orioles by the same man who hired him to work with the Red Sox in 2000.  New General Manager, Dan Duquette.  Johnson doesn’t take it for granted.  “I was fortunate, very fortunate.  He had the confidence to hire me before and then hire me to come over here and run this thing.  This place reminds me of getting over to the Red Sox system early.  There is a lot of exciting things going on in the Baltimore Orioles organization right now.”  Johnson was also effusive in his praise for the man that runs the Orioles, Buck Showalter.  “You look over into that dugout and see Buck, I’ll tell you…once i got there to Spring Training and got to know him a little bit…Phenomenal.”  RJ added.  “His awareness and attention to detail, is second to none.  Tito was outstanding with that stuff.  Amazing.  Buck is just like that.  He made me feel comfortable right from the start.  There’s a lot of communication that goes on here, just like it did there.  We are going to be alright.”

     R.J.’s daughter is doing very well these days.  In August of 2010, she and the horse she was riding, were struck by a car, killing the animal and severing her leg.  After countless operations and procedures, Bridget is doing well and in fact, is still riding.  “Bridgie’s doing great.  She’s back riding and loves it.  she finished fourth in the state (Tennessee) in pole bending.  Last night she did very well riding “Youkie”.  On the medical side, she’s doing really well.  She has an amazing attitude.  She’s never asked ‘why me?’  You can’t tell Bridget she’s disabled.  She doesn’t want the sticker on the truck.”

     Yes, “Youkie” is named after a certain Red Sox third baseman.  When Bridget got hurt, Kevin Youkilis told Johnson that he wanted to replace the horse that was killed in the accident.  “I told him he didn’t have to do that.  He said he did.  He wanted to.  He said I didn’t realize the impact I had on his career.  I had Kev since he was in A Ball.”  Youkilis was surprised at how long it took Bridget to pick a new horse.  “I told him, it’s not like Wal-Mart.  You have to find the right one.”  She finally decided on a new horse and according to RJ, two days later, the new horse was delivered to their barn, courtesy of Kevin Youkilis.  The original name was Hootie, but not for long.  “Nah, she changed it to ‘Youkie and now the name is up on stall #1, forever.”  Johnson will always remember the gesture.  “Say what you want about Youk, but he’s got a big heart.  One of the bggest hearts in the game.”

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