Scorpions sign Tim Johnson, Tony Phillips
Jose Canseco and the Yuma Scorpions will be receiving some big-league backup when they return to Desert Sun Stadium Tuesday night. Ex-Major League manager Tim "TJ" Johnson signed with Yuma to become the team's bench coach on Monday, while ex-MLB utility man Tony Phillips has also signed a $1 deal to play with the team.
Johnson, who managed Canseco with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1998, joins the Scorpions nine days after quitting as the Lake County Fielders manager in a bizzare afternoon at the ballpark. Yuma hosts the Fielders tonight at 7:35 p.m. at Desert Sun Stadium.
On July 9, the Yuma Scorpions played a road game at Lake County in Zion, Ill. Shortly before the contest, Johnson resigned and several of the team's players didn't play, saying Lake County didn't keep up with payroll. The Fielders are partly-owned by actor Kevin Costner.
As a result, Lake County interim manager Pete LaCock was forced to make a batting order full of pitchers. In a gesture of respect to his ex-skipper Johnson, Canseco started the game, along with seven other pitchers and a catcher in Yuma's starting lineup. Canseco tossed six innings of one-run ball in an 8-3 win. The Chicago Sun-Times reported LaCock resigned after the game. In the days since, the Fielders have either traded away or released every player but one: catcher Alan Rick.
In another twist, Yuma general manager Jose Melendez said the team has signed three ex-Fielders to the team. Yuma has signed former Lake County closer Chris Thompson and outfielders Argelis Nunez and Lino Garcia. Nunez's .356 average in 36 games still leads the Fielders, while his nine home runs and 28 RBIs are second most on the team. Garcia batted .276 with four homers and 20 RBIs in 25 games and Thompson had 12 saves and a 3.74 ERA in 19 outings for Lake County.
Phillips, 52, totes 18 years of MLB experience, last playing with the Oakland Athletics in 1999. Phillips and Canseco were teammates for four-plus seasons in Oakland from 1985-89. Phillips has signed on to play third base and is expected to be in Tuesday night's starting lineup.
He has spent the last month in the Phoenix area getting into game shape. His ultimate goal is to play in the Dominican Republic Winter Leagues. As recently as a month ago, Phillips said he was in the Phoenix area with the A's extended spring training program, where he was coaching. Phillips has coached with the Seattle and Cincinnati organizations in recent years, but said he has formed a nice relationship with Oakland general manager Billy Beane.