Rockland Boulders’ New Pitching Coach, Marcus Nidiffer
Earlier in the year, Rockland Boulders starting pitcher/pitching coach Richard Salazar accepted a position as the pitching coach with the Minnesota Twins Rookie Ball/Gulf Coast Team in Fort Myers, Florida. The Boulders turned to a familiar face within the organization to fill the pitching coach position. That familiar face is starting catcher/captain Marcus Nidiffer.
Entering his fifth season with Rockland, Nidiffer has tallied 68 home runs, 277 RBI’s and twice named to the Can-Am League All-Star team. Back in 2015, Nidiffer belted a career high 22 home runs and amassed 93 RBI’s.
Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with Nidiffer about the decision.
Double G Sports: Congratulations Marcus on becoming the new pitching coach of the Rockland Boulders. How do you feel about the new role with the team and Richard Salazar retiring?
Marcus Nidiffer: I’m going to miss catching Sally [Richard Salazar] and proud of where he is going and think he will do an unbelievable job. I hate to see his career end but all he did was get people out and happy I caught his last pitch. He has been in the game so long and mentored younger players. People forget our season ended in September, Rich would pack up his bags, take a two-week vacation and get right back on the mound and play winter ball every season.
He is literally playing games every day of the week throughout the year and sees more baseball than anybody else and playing two seasons within a year. For him to pitch for so long and be strong every season, hats off to him. Learning from watching Sally and shadowing him as he went through his day and controlled the staff. Already making mound visits as a catcher, so information and knowledge will be the same and now I will have to wear a baseball hat. A really good step for me and have played for a long time and a lot of players that went through the grind and makes it tougher to stop playing and step back into the grind and get to where they want to be. To have this opportunity and way it was presented to me, I’m pretty fortunate and opportunities don’t happen too often so I’m pretty pumped.
Double G Sports: Can you talk about Manager Jamie Keefe and the way the system will work during the season?
Nidiffer: A very good connection I have with him since I started in Rockland and respect that. Happy to be part of the environment Jamie has created the past couple of years and really turned this program around and going to be exciting this year. Every year is a different team and identity. Part of baseball is a clubhouse, working together as a group and encourage each other to get better and push through the grind. What we have in the clubhouse are optimistic people.
A different aspect as a player and coach, you start to see things differently. Thinking a couple of pitches, innings and games ahead. A long grind and we’re in it together, my motto is lose together, win together. Pretty fortunate here in Rockland to have players come through the system and starting to be the theme of the organization. You never know who that guy is going to be and anytime you can become that guy in baseball and get better. The staff has done a great job of creating a special atmosphere and good place to come play.
I also had the opportunity to talk with Keefe about naming Nidiffer the Boulders’ new pitching coach.
Jamie Keefe: Marcus has had a very successful career behind the plate, a man who has been in the minor leagues nine years and taken pitching staffs to the playoffs nine years in a row and something to be said for that. He knows how to call a game and what to work with when guys are not pitching.
It was the right thing as an organization and Marcus loves the game of baseball. We want to keep him as a player on the field as long as we can. This is a move that can prolong his career and instead of concentrating every single day on catching, he can get his pitching staff ready.
He is the calming influence and that guy I can lean on, especially last four years and [he’s] been the captain last three years for a reason. The guys lean on him for a lot of things, as well as staff and I do as a manager and [it’s] time to take it to the next level. Marcus wants to be in this game for a long time and one day will make one a hell of a manager.