John Shoemaker Will Manage Suns

When there is trouble in the Dodger minor league system, the reaction is to plug John Shoemaker in and he will take care of it. When Jacksonville manager Dino Ebel left the franchise to manage the Angels AAA club in Salt Lake City, it suddenly left a hole. But the Dodgers announced that Shoemaker, who was assistant field manager under Terry Collins, will return to the dugout where he was Southern League co-championship and Manager of the Year honors in 2001.

Shoemaker, 48, has worked in the Dodgers' minor leagues for 28 years, as a player, manager and defensive instructor. In his 14 seasons as a minor-league manager, Shoemaker has posted a 843-877 (.490) record, fifth all-time in franchise history, and has won two league championships while reaching four league finals.

He took the Suns to a 83-56 record in 2001, giving him the highest career winning percentage of any Jacksonville skipper in the SL era. The Vero Beach resident played baseball and basketball at Miami (Ohio) University and was drafted in the sixth round of the 1978 NBA Draft by the Chicago Bulls.

"I'm looking forward to returning to Jacksonville," Shoemaker said. "The Los Angeles Dodgers and the Jacksonville Suns make a great team and I'm happy to be a part of it for the 2005 season."

Former Major League right-hander Ken Howell joins Shoemaker's braintrust as pitching coach, replacing Marty Reed who guided Suns hurlers for three seasons. Howell, a Detroit native, pitched six seasons in the Major Leagues from 1984-90 with the Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies, winning 38 games. He previously was the pitching coach with Class A-Advanced Vero Beach in 2004 and is switching roles with Reed.

The Dodgers have yet to determine the Suns' hitting coach.

"We've probably had a dozen managers in our time here and we've seen a lot more with the visiting teams, but John Shoemaker is far and away the best one I've ever seen," Suns vice-president and general manager Peter Bragan, Jr., said. "His enthusiasm for the game of baseball is absolutely contagious."