Johnson was released by the Red Sox in 2011 after two years as the team's first base coach. He had been involved in the Red Sox organization since 2000, when he was initially hired as a minor-league manager by current Orioles general manager Dan Duquette. Johnson spent 12 years with the Red Sox organization in various capacities, managing the Pawtucket Red Sox from 2005-2009.
The 55-year old Johnson spent much of his career with the Kansas City Royals organization, where he was drafted as a player in 1978. He played parts of three Major League seasons, appearing in 22 games while batting .261 with two RBI. He coached and managed in the Kansas City organization before leaving for Boston.