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Minnesota Twins pitching coach Wes Johnson ditches team for similar role at LSU

Andrew Buller-Russ

Here’s something you don’t see every day. The first-place Minnesota Twins are losing their pitching coach Wes Johnson to LSU, where he’s set to serve in the same role, according to Baseball America.

Perhaps the oddest part, is that the Twins have 89 games left in their season. Meanwhile LSU’s college season is over, meaning Johnson’s leaving his current job for another gig that isn’t even ongoing.

It’s quite strange. Even more peculiar is that the Twins tried to keep Johnson, asking him what they could do to prevent him from leaving, but Johnson didn’t bite, opting to leave anyway. He did not ask the team for more money, but it’s believed that his new salary is double what he was believed to be making with the Twins ($350K).

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Wes Johnson did well in his MLB role with Twins

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Chicago White Sox
Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports

Johnson was initially hired out of the college ranks in 2018, after developing a reputation as one of the better instructors at the college level. Still the hire raised eyebrows at the time since Johnson had never worked in an MLB organization before the Twins took a chance on him, but evidently, he prefers to head back to school.

It’s not like Johnson or the Twins were headed in a bad direction. The team won the AL Central twice and are currently in first place again. Plus his pitching staffs, while rarely given top talent, have performed well, currently ranking 11th in ERA among 30 MLB teams. They’ve ranked 12th on average over his four seasons with the ballclub, which is admirable considering their personnel.

Not to mention, rookie sensation Joe Ryan is off to a red-hot start, pitching to a 3.00 ERA through 10 starts. Now the staff will have to look to assistant pitching coach Pete Maki, who’s set to take over for Johnson.

The Twins first learned of Johnson’s negotiations with LSU on Saturday.

Johnson will join Jay Johnson’s coaching staff at LSU, who, again are not currently playing baseball since the college baseball season just ended. The plan is for Johnson to stick around with the Twins through their upcoming five-game series against the Cleveland Guardians, and leave for LSU after June 30.

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