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Blake Butera back for 2nd season as RiverDogs manager

The Charleston RiverDogs announced their 2021 roster on Friday
The Charleston RiverDogs announced their 2021 roster on Friday(Live 5 News)
Published: Jan. 24, 2022 at 6:38 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, S.C. - The Charleston RiverDogs, in conjunction with the Tampa Bay Rays, announced their field staff for the upcoming 2022 season on Monday afternoon. Blake Butera will return for his second year as manager after guiding the RiverDogs to the first championship in franchise history in 2021. Pitching coach R.C. Lichtenstein and Strength and Conditioning Coach Mia Salvemini will also return to the Holy City after serving in the same roles last season. Hitting coach Perry Roth, bench coach Frank Jagoda and athletic trainer Ruben Santiago fill out Butera’s staff in their first seasons with the team.

The 29-year old Butera will aim for a repeat of the 2021 season when he guided the RiverDogs to the first professional baseball championship in the city of Charleston since 1922 and a record-breaking .683 winning percentage. Following the campaign, he was named the Low-A East Manager of the Year.

“I am extremely excited and proud to return to Charleston in 2022. We have an all-star coaching staff and a great group of young talent,” said Butera. “The city of Charleston, its fans, and the front office made last year such an incredible experience, and I can’t wait to see what 2022 has in store.”

Prior to arriving in Charleston, Butera spent two seasons at the helm of the Hudson Valley Renegades. At the time he received the managerial job in Hudson Valley, Butera was the youngest manager (25 years old) in Minor League Baseball. The native of Metairie, Louisiana was drafted by the Rays in the 35th round of the 2015 Amateur Draft out of Boston College and appeared in 80 minor league games over two seasons. At Boston College, he was voted team captain his senior year and finished his career as the Eagles’ all-time leader in walks (112) and at-bats (774). His father, Barry, reached Triple-A with the Red Sox and his brother, Barry, spent two seasons in the Astros minor league system after being selected out of Boston College in the 2009 Amateur Draft.

Lichtenstein will lead the pitching staff once again after a season in which his charges were dominant. In 2021, the RiverDogs finished with the lowest earned run average and most shutouts of any Low-A team. The pitching staff also led the Low-A East in strikeouts and allowed the fewest hits of any team in the circuit. John Doxakis was named the league’s Pitcher of the Month in May, while Taj Bradley received the same honor in June and July. The RiverDogs also had three different pitchers honored as Low-A East Pitcher of the Week.

2022 will be Lichtenstein’s 18th year in the Rays organization. He has served as pitching coach at several stops in the Rays farm system including Southwest Michigan (2005-06), Vero Beach (2007-08), Bowling Green (2009-11) and Double-A Montgomery (2012-19). Throughout his career in baseball, the 53-year old has also coached in the Milwaukee Brewers organization and managed two independent squads.

This year will be Roth’s first with the Rays after coaching at the college level since 1996. Last year he served as the interim head coach at UAB. He spent 15 years with UAB’s baseball program, also serving as recruiting coordinator, hitting coach and assistant head coach. Prior to his time with the Blazers, he served as an assistant for two separate stints at Birmingham Southern and also coached at Bradley, Illinois State and Greenville College. Roth also played at Greenville College where his team reached the National Christian College Athletic Association championship in 1990 and 1991.

Jagoda joined the Rays organization in 2020 when he was slated to be a member of the Princeton Rays staff until the MiLB season was canceled. In 2021, he was part of the FCL Rays staff that helped lead the team to the best record in the circuit and one of the top winning percentages in all of MiLB. Jagoda previously spent two seasons with the Minnesota Twins, serving as rehabilitation pitching coach in 2018 and a coach for the Fort Myers Miracle in 2019. Prior to entering professional baseball, Jagoda coached with USA Baseball and at the collegiate level with Patrick Henry Community College, Wingate University, Canisius College and Jamestown Community College.

Salvemini began the 2021 season with the FCL Rays and completed the campaign as the RiverDogs Strength and Conditioning coach. She is also a CrossFit Level One Trainer and spent time working with athletes at Cressey Sports Performance. Salvemini was originally hired by the Rays in 2020 after graduating from the University of Tampa in 2019 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Human Performance with a concentration in Exercise Recreation and Leadership.

The 2022 season will be Santiago’s seventh as an athletic trainer with the Rays. In 2021, he worked with the FCL Rays after spending the previous three seasons on the Princeton coaching staff. Santiago joined the organization from the Toros del Este in the Dominican Winter League in 2016 and spent his first two seasons with the Gulf Coast League Rays.